Sikorsky to close Coatesville plant in 2022

Avatar for Oliver JohnsonBy Oliver Johnson | August 24, 2021

Estimated reading time 5 minutes, 3 seconds.

Lockheed Martin has confirmed it is closing Sikorsky’s manufacturing facility in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, with more than 240 staff set to lose their jobs.

S-92 assembled in Coatesville, Pennsylvania
The S-92 has been assembled in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, since the winter of 2009/10. Skip Robinson Photo

The facility houses the final assembly lines (FALs) for the S-92 and S-76, two types that have suffered from the continued downturn in the offshore oil-and-gas sector.

Lockheed Martin said “a downturn in the commercial helicopter sector” was behind the move, and that the work previously completed in Coatesville would now be moved to its facilities in Stratford, Connecticut; West Palm Beach, Florida; and Owego, New York.

“We remain committed to supporting all our customers and will continue supporting the acquisition and sustainment of the S-92 and S-76 fleets,” said John Dorrian, senior manager of Sikorsky Communications at Lockheed Martin.

“We have informed all of our customers and are planning the transitions to occur with no disruption to their programs.”

Sikorsky moved the S-92 FAL to Coatesville from Stratford just over a decade ago. The facility spans more than 416,000 square feet, including 217,000 square foot Heliplex where Sikorsky commercial assembly lines and the well-equipped production test flight and delivery center are located.

At its peak, the facility had over 1,000 employees, but staff numbers have been reduced over the years by a series of cuts.

“Despite close collaboration with our commercial customers, federal, state and local officials, we were unable to secure enough additional work to sustain operations,” said Dorrian.

The facility will close by the end of March 2022, with 120 of Sikorsky’s Coatesville employees staying with the company and either telecommuting or relocating.

Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), whose district includes the Coatesville plant, said she was “frustrated and disappointed” at news of the closure.

“This is not the outcome we wanted, but now my priority over the next seven months is helping these highly-skilled workers find new jobs in our community and finding a productive use for the facility that contributes to the tax base and the vibrancy of Coatesville,” she said.

“I will be hosting a job fair at West Chester University on Oct. 12 with a focus on jobs for displaced Sikorsky workers.”

The decision to finally close the plant will do little to reassure those who question Lockheed Martin’s interest in the commercial helicopter market.

When the security and aerospace giant bought Sikorsky from United Technologies Corp. (UTC) in November 2015, the appeal of the rotary-wing company’s defense business was obvious. The future of the commercial business was less certain, and three years later, Sikorsky’s S-300 product line was sold to Schweizer RSG.

In recent years, respondents in Vertical’s annual OEM survey have registered their concern that Lockheed Martin is solely focused on Sikorsky’s military business.

“We hear this from time to time, but the reality is quite different than the perception,” the company told Vertical in a statement addressing such concerns in 2020’s edition. “We can assure you that Lockheed Martin continues to be very committed to the commercial business and will continue to be in the future as it is a critical part of our business.”

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3 Comments

  1. It’s a business decision. Not enough volume to maintain this site when there is empty space in other Lockheed plants.

  2. I am saddened to hear this news– and what is this info about lower oil prices figuring into the equation? Something doesn’t factor. Will someone please advise where I might find lower/ gas providers? And, has anyone in an executive position considered what this decision means to the surrounding business community?

    1. Offshore oil platforms were the largest consumer of the S-76 and S-92 for about a decade. The S-92 is designed and is the only helicopter certified by the FAA to land on offshore platforms in weather, no other helicopter in the world can do that. You’ll have to read more on the economics of oil production to understand why your gas prices are going up. I hate having to say this but who you vote for really does matter. The state and local politicians have been salivating over Sikorsky/LMCO to bring more business into the state but run them out of town with high tax and terrible policy decisions. I left the Coatesville facility because I was tired of giving my money away up to 33% between federal, PA state and LOCAL taxes (Valley Township TAKES 1% just because – scumbags). So I moved to Florida where I made an instant 12% more in take home pay and quality of life has blossomed..

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