Almondbank factory loses helicopter repair business

Sea King The factory maintains components for Sea King helicopters

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A defence company is to relocate its helicopter repair business from Perthshire to Somerset, putting 80 jobs at risk.

AgustaWestland said it was withdrawing the work from Vector Aerospace's Almondbank site so it could bring the work in-house.

The factory currently maintains and repairs components from Lynx and Sea King helicopters.

Work on the aircraft will be transferred to Yeovil by April 2012.

AgustaWestland said it hoped many employees would choose to relocate to Somerset, but that "appropriate compensation terms" would be agreed with those who did not want to go.

Additionally, Vector Aerospace has called for 30 people from management and staff to take voluntary redundancy so it can maintain the "viability" of its Almondbank facility.

Defence 'squeeze'

Both companies said the move was "in no way" a reflection on the plant's performance.

Michael Tyrrell, managing director of Vector Aerospace UK, said: "The decision by AgustaWestland is disappointing.

"However, our Almondbank business will continue to provide a first-class multi-platform maintenance, repair and overhaul facility for a blue chip customer base."

Union bosses said the possible job losses were "symptomatic" of the squeeze on defence spending.

Negotiater Jim Cooper said: "The announcement is a blow. It shows clearly how cuts to the public sector filter through to the private sector - at a time when the government has pinned its hopes on a recovery spearheaded by the private sector."

He added: "The decision will have a disproportionate impact on Scottish industry and must throw the future of Almondbank into serious doubt."

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