Hundreds of jobs could be created at the Broughton Airbus manufacturing site near Chester if the aviation group wins a Government helicopter contract.
Airbus currently employs around 4,500 staff at the plant making wings for its commercial aircraft. Around 2,000 jobs were lost as a result of the coronavirus pandemic when the world’s airlines were grounded and international travel came to a halt.
But under the company’s proposals, it could build an assembly line at the site, creating hundreds of jobs manufacturing helicopters.
It depends if the Government chooses its H175M model, a new military variant of a 7.8-tonne rotorcraft that has previously only been sold in the civil market.
It follows the Government’s decision to retire its existing Puma helicopter fleet from the middle of the decade.
A final assembly line could be in operation within 12 months of a contract being signed. It would be able to utilise the skills and experience that already exists at Broughton following years of wings assembly.
Airbus’s helicopter activity is currently headquartered at Oxford Airport – Britain’s civil helicopter hub – from where the company provides the country’s premium rotary wing aircraft solutions.
With sites in Aberdeen, Belfast, and Oxford, Airbus provides helicopter design, manufacturing, support, maintenance and training to its customers.
Airbus rotary wing aircraft make up the entirety of the country’s police helicopter fleet, 65% of the air ambulance fleet, and half of the country’s overall civil helicopter fleet.
Airbus is also an important helicopter supplier to the UK Armed Forces, with 100 of its rotorcraft in service with the Ministry of Defence. These include dedicated helicopters for operations across the globe – including the Puma 2, the workhorse of the RAF, and recently subject to one of the most successful defence upgrade programmes in the UK.