Pioneering gas turbine innovator passes away

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Leading gas turbine innovator and former vice president for engineering at GE Gas Power, John Lammas passed away on April 19. “John’s impact on our company and the lives of so many was tremendous,” said Scott Strazik, CEO of GE Gas Power. “He was an incredible engineer, leader, mentor and friend.”

He played a key role of many of GE’s gas turbine technology milestones such as the HA plant Bouchain, France, considered among the most efficient combined cycles.

Born in England, Lammas' imprint survives today in airports around the world, in desert oil fields, and in efficient power generation.

Lammas spent more than two decades at GE Aviation, where he built colossal jet engines. And he also spent a few years at GE Oil & Gas, which merged with Baker Hughes. In the 1990s, he helped engineer components for the jet engine GE90.


Lammas studied mechanical engineering at the University of Salford in Manchester, England. From the start, he was smitten by turbines, the beating hearts of powerful rotating machines like jet engines and the electricity-generating gas turbines that set the pulse of the modern world.

In 1985, he landed at GE Aviation headquarters in Cincinnati and took a job as a design engineer working on military jet and civilian jet engines, including the CFM56, the first engine developed by CFM International, a 50-50 joint venture between GE and Safran Aircraft Engines.

By now, the CFM56 has become one of the most successful jet engines ever built; it’s the first engine family in aviation history to achieve 1 billion engine flight hours.

Calculating that a 1,000-megawatt power plant using a pair of HA turbines could save $50 million on fuel over 10 years by raising efficiency by 1%, Lammas and his team set to work. Where the Bouchain power plant clocked in at 62.22% efficiency, the latest machine Lammas worked on, the 7HA.03 turbine, can top 64% in combined-cycle efficiency.