Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sikorsky begins full production of new helicopter in Coatesville

The aircraft maker is beginning final assembly on the first S-76D helicopters due for delivery in 2012 to Middle Eastern customers.

Sikorsky begins full production of new helicopter in Coatesville

I heard a common lament last week from readers after writing about weak U.S. job growth:

Companies don’t manufacture enough products in the United States.

That’s true for a lot of consumer products, but there are pockets of industrial products that are still made in the USA.

In Philadelphia, helicopters are one such product. Boeing Co. gets most of the attention with its sprawling complex along Interstate 95 in Delaware County where it employs more than 5,000.

But there are also AgustaWestland, which employs more than 500, at the Northeast Philadelphia Airport, and Sikorsky Global Helicopters and its nearly 1,000 employees who work on commercial products in Coatesville.

This month, Sikorsky began final-assembly production of its S-76D helicopter, which will be used for emergency medical services, offshore oil and gas production support, and VIP transport.

The Coatesville operations built the three prototypes, which are being put through testing at Sikorsky’s flight center in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Not every part of this bird is made in Chester County. The fuselages are produced by Aero Vodochody in Czech Republic, a subcontractor that has made more than 250 frames for Sikorsky’s previous generations of S-76 helicopters.

And Sikorsky workers in Coatesville will install Pratt & Whitney engines, blades, and gearboxes during final assembly. Back in February, the company had said it anticipated producing one S-76D per month once full production begins.

The first customers are Middle Eastern buyers: Kuwait International Aircraft Leasing and Falcon Aviation Services. Sikorsky, a unit of United Technologies Corp., said delivery of the first S-76D is scheduled for 2012.

Kullman on Board

Speaking of United Technologies, the Hartford, Conn.-based conglomerate on Friday named DuPont Co. chairman and CEO Ellen Kullman to its 13-member board, as of Jan. 3.

Kullman, who became CEO of DuPont in January 2009, will be the third female director of United Technologies, joining former New Jersey Gov. Christie Whitman and Jamie S. Gorelick, a partner in the Washington office of the law firm of WilmerHale.

Another person on the board who will be familiar to Philadelphians is Jean-Pierre Garnier, the CEO of GlaxoSmithKline P.L.C. from 2000 to 2008.

Needs a Charge

C&D Technologies Inc., the Blue Bell industrial-battery maker that has been trying to restructure its finances outside bankruptcy court, still does most of its manufacturing in the United States.

But with international sales accounting for a bigger share of its revenue, it’s clear that much of its future growth is tied to Asia, where C&D has a 327,000-square-foot factory in Shanghai, China. C&D noted its strong performance in Asia even as it posted lower revenue overall for its third quarter.

Revenue was $87.6 million for its quarter ended Oct. 31, compared with $91.2 million for the same quarter last year. On Friday, C&D management chose to highlight a sequential revenue increase from the second quarter’s $83.8 million and drew attention to a backlog of $47.8 million in North America, its highest since December 2008.

The company took a $1.8 million charge related to the closing of its factory in Leola, Pa., which was announced in September and will cut 85 jobs. C&D also paid $1.3 million in fees in connection with its continuing recapitalization efforts.

Mike Armstrong Inquirer Columnist
About this blog
Mike Armstrong blogs about Philadelphia corporations and business-related topics. Contact him at 215-854-2980. Reach Mike at marmstrong@phillynews.com.

Mike Armstrong Inquirer Columnist
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