GE Aviation is expecting to build a new production plant in Ashevile – but there’s a big caveat.

The company is still looking for a tax incentive deal with the state of North Carolina. 

GE plans to break ground this year on a parts factory if a deal is struck. It will built next to an existing GE machining plant. The company says the new plant will produce engine components made of advanced ceramic matrix composite materials.

The expansion is part of a big growth move being made by GE Aviation in the U.S.

The firmis hiring thousands of engineers near San Francisco in a push to connect everything from jet engines to medical-imaging machines to the Web and help customers run equipment more efficiently.

“We’ve opened a software center in East Bay, hiring thousands of software engineers to basically bring all the great innovation you’ve seen in Silicon Valley now to industry,” Beth Comstock, chief marketing officer at GE, said at the Bloomberg Next Big Thing Summit in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Monday.

GE Aviation could begin hiring at the new Asheville plant as early as next year. Within five years, the workforce at the factory could expand to more than 340 people.

IT is part of a larger commitment by GE Aviation to invest $195 million across its North Carolina operations through 2017. Those investments could create another 240 jobs.

GE Aviation has more than 1,300 employees in North Carolina at sites in Asheville, Durham, West Jefferson and Wilmington.

The new factory was announced at the opening of the Paris Air Show.

GE Aviation says ceramic matrix composite materials, known as CMC, are critical for its next-generation aircraft engines. The ultra-lightweight CMC material supports extremely high temperatures in the high-pressure turbine.

“Asheville would be our first factory involved in the mass production of CMC components. We believe the future Asheville plant will be on the ground floor of a new technology that will change aviation,” said David Joyce, president and chief executive officer GE Aviation.

GE Aviation said it had worked with the North Carolina Department of Commerce to secure the proposed Asheville location and investments in existing facilities.

To prepare for the new factory, GE will partner with Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. The training program at the community college would allow current and prospective employees to train in a hands-on environment.

“Industrial Internet”

At the California conference, Comstock said GE is developing an “industrial Internet,” building networks that harvest data from commercial machines and offering services to help customers analyze the resulting reams of information. The company said last year that it was investing $1 billion in a facility in San Ramon and hiring engineers from Oracle Corp., SAP AG and Symantec Corp. as well as Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley.

Chief Executive Officer Jeff Immelt has stressed the savings potential from using data to tweak machines, saying that even a 1 percent improvement in the operations of commercial aircraft would translate into $2 billion less per year in fuel costs for GE’s customers in the airline industry.

As Fairfield, Connecticut-based GE adds sensors to jet engines, the next step is to help customers analyze all the resulting data, Comstock said.

“We probably haven’t seen anything yet when it comes to data when machines start talking to machines and machines start talking to people,” Comstock said. “We have to make sense of it.”