720 Layoffs at Chester County Aircraft Maker

Blame tumbling oil prices.

Stephen VanHorn/Shutterstock

Stephen VanHorn/Shutterstock

While consumers may celebrate low oil prices for making it cheaper at the gas pump, it’s ripple effects will cost 720 people in Chester County their jobs.

Sikorsky has decided to layoff 160 full-timers and 560 contractors at its Coatesville, Pa., facility because low oil prices have forced its customers — oil companies drilling offshore — to cut back on using Sikorsky’s helicopters to shuttle people to and from offshore rigs.

It’s part of a company-wide plan to cut 1,400 jobs in Poland, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. The layoffs will start immediately and take place over the next several months.

“Sustained decreases in oil prices continue to drive significant declines in capital investments by oil companies in offshore oil exploration projects impacting Sikorsky and resulting in reduced production levels,” the company said in a statement. “Additionally, Sikorsky continues to experience softness in demand for certain international military products.”

The company makes the Marine One presidential helicopter at the Coatesville site as well as the S-92 and S-76D helicopters and other aircraft. It currently has about 1,060 full-time employees.

Sikorsky is a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. which announced back in March that it’s in the process of deciding whether to sell, or spin off the Sikorsky helicopter division. Jackson said that was not a factor in the layoffs and that the two are “completely unrelated.”

In 2014, Sikorsky got a $2.5 million in state grant funds to build a tunnel to connect its manufacturing plant with a 12-acre site adjacent to the Chester County Airport.