Sikorsky to close upstate NY plant, cut 570 jobs

BIG FLATS, N.Y. (AP) — Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., citing declining military budgets and a tough economy, said it will close its plant in upstate New York and eliminate all 570 jobs.

Employees at the 5-year-old facility, which has seen its ranks dwindle from a peak of 1,300, were told Monday that the plant would close as of Dec. 31 and its work transitioned to Sikorsky's West Palm Beach, Fla., facility.

"Faced with these difficult economic conditions, we must eliminate excess production capacity and increase operational efficiencies to remain competitive," said Paul Jackson, spokesman for the Stratford, Conn.-based subsidiary of United Technologies Corp.

The helicopter maker and military contractor announced in September 2011 that it was trimming its worldwide workforce of 18,000 by about 540 jobs. Jackson cited "moderating growth" in the U.S. and international economies and the impact on commercial and military customers.

The Military Completion Center in Chemung County customizes military helicopters sold to foreign governments. Sikorsky bought the plant from Schweizer Aircraft Corp. in 2004. Three years later, the company opened a new $15 million, 100,000-square-foot facility near the Elmira Corning Regional Airport.

Sikorsky also has large-scale operations in Connecticut, Florida, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin, as well as Poland.

Sikorsky posted $1.62 billion in net sales for the second quarter of 2012, down 9 percent from the same period in 2011. Its signature Black Hawk has been a workhorse for the U.S. military to strike targets and ferry troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since 2005, sales at Sikorsky have more than doubled, to $7.36 billion in 2011.

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