British Aerospace is believed to be close to making a decision on the future of its factory at Chadderton, Greater Manchester, which could see the workforce cut by half.
The site, which recently lost work making wing parts for the European Airbus to BAe’s Chester site, is believed to have been earmarked to become BAe’s centre for spares and repairs. Such a move could result in the loss of up to 1,000 of the 1,800 jobs at the plant.
Spares work is now carried out at BAe’s six machine shops around the country, alongside production lines.
But some spares and repairs work for Tornado fighter aircraft has already been transferred to Chadderton from BAe’s Salmesbury factory, near Preston.
BAe’s manufacturing director for military aircraft and aerostructures will next month confirm the findings of three working groups into the future of the plant. The working groups also looked at the impact of any decision on the workforce and local community.
A spokesman for BAe played down the potential job losses. ’The final decision has not been taken,’ he said.
The decision on Chadderton is the final piece in the jigsaw of BAe’s manufacturing strategy review, started two years ago.
This process has already seen BAe transfer wing assembly work from Salmesbury to Prestwick, Scotland, allowing the former to ramp up production for the forward fuselage of the Eurofighter aircraft.
The Salmesbury site, which is BAe’s biggest, is expected to become the company’s centre of excellence for advanced military technology. It would take on all of the longbed machining work for civil and military aircraft wings, including the Boeing contract held by Chadderton.
Suggestions that US manufacturer Boeing wants to buy Chadderton to give the company its own European manufacturing capability have been denied by both companies.