GE Aviation has pioneered a mutually beneficial arrangement with the U.S. Government to accommodate the environmentally controlled teardown of hardware and recovery of strategic alloys in exchange for credits on future engine/parts purchases.

The Military Engine Reclamation Program is an incentivized process for GE’s U.S. Navy and Air Force customers to garner financial value from retiring GE products in their fleets, including F404, F414, TF39, TF34, T700 F110, F101 and F118 engine parts.

“The Engine Reclamation Program initiated by Naval Air Systems Command and GE Aviation is an exchange-based cost reduction initiative that required virtually no upfront investment, and delivered a near immediate payoff”, said Antonio Miguelez, Director of Propulsion and Power Engineering at Naval Air Systems Command.  “Beyond the obvious benefit of life cycle cost savings for Naval Aviation Enterprise Programs, other realized benefits include reduction to material sourcing risk of strategic metals, much lower workload demand than conventional material disposal processes, and the environmental advantages that come from recycling.  This project represents a best practice approach for the Navy and DoD, and clearly demonstrates how effective collaboration between Government and Industry can produce winning solutions for both the warfighter and taxpayer.”

Since its inception in 2009, the reclamation program has grown steadily and thus far has resulted in the recycling/reuse of 2.3 million lbs. of retired hardware that has generated nearly $3.5 million for NAVAIR (the inaugural participant) and nearly $1.3 million for the USAF.

Military customers receive an exchange-allowance credit in return for the environmentally controlled teardown of graded alloy material including platinum, rhenium and gold that is extracted from their decommissioned hardware. These credits are then used toward GEA Materiel Purchases.

Today, an average of between 80,000-90,000 lbs. of matured eligible engine hardware is reclaimed each month.  GE Aviation and the Services are aggressively working to increase both the amount and valuation of material processed.  Recent promising efforts include initiatives to recover precious metals and specific alloy constituents during the reclamation process, including, but not limited to; Platinum and Rhenium Candidate Materiel.

And GE Aviation realizes incremental sales growth opportunities because of this program, as the Navy and Air Force apply their procured exchange allowances toward the purchase of General Electric Aviation engine hardware and equipment. Through continuous evolution of the Military Engine Exchange Program’s life, a core objective remains to maximize strategic alloy recovery candidate materiel, while mitigating the risk of precious metal materiel loss and simplifying labor efforts.

“Under this cost recovery initiative, we’re able to facilitate the compliant repurposing of valuable materials and enable the Navy and Air Force to reduce Total Ownership Cost of propulsion systems”, said David Beck, GE Aviation’s Senior Materials Management Leader. “In addition, both stakeholders benefit from the retention of strategic materials within the aerospace supply chain, reductions in energy footprint and greenhouse gas generation, as well as the increase in buying power associated with acquired exchange allowances.” Beck added that the hope is to explore the possibility of extending this reclamation program to the U.S. Army.

There are two authorized sites used to execute this program. They periodically receive shipments of retired engines from military depots (generally in batches of 5 or 6) and then conduct strategic, environmentally conscious teardowns of the powerplants that include a meltdown process to extract valuable alloy materials such as rhenium, platinum, nickel, cobalt and even gold.