Engine pod in UTC Aerospace Systems plant
An engine pod in a UTC Aerospace Systems plant. Courtesy of the company

UTC Aerospace Systems plans to wind down manufacturing at its Chula Vista aircraft plant beginning early next year, eliminating around 300 jobs, it was reported Friday.

The company — a division of Farmington, Connecticut-based conglomerate United Technologies — said the decision stems from ending production of certain commercial aircraft models, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

The Chula Vista plant builds aerodynamic engine pods and mounts for customers such as Boeing and Airbus.

UTC Aerospace plans to keep an after-market spare parts distribution, engineering test labs and administrative jobs in Chula Vista, according to the Union-Tribune.

“We remain committed to being in Chula Vista,” Stacey MacNeil, vice president of communications for UTC Aerospace told the newspaper. “There will still be 1,500 jobs there. We are not shutting down the entire location.”

The closure of manufacturing, however, will end production of aircraft components at the plant, which has been building planes and supplying aircraft sub-systems since Fred Rohr founded Rohr Aircraft Co. in 1940, according to the Union-Tribune.

“We recognize the impact this decision will have on our employees and their families, and will not begin the wind-down until 2019,” the company said in a statement. “We expect the entire process to take place over a two- year period.”

The layoffs include about 265 sheet metal workers who are members of the International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Workers, according to the Union-Tribune. Non-union supervisors, purchasers and other salaried workers involved in manufacturing also will lose their jobs.

In July, UTC Aerospace Systems notified the union of the planned shutdown, according to the Union-Tribune.

The first round of layoffs is expected in the first quarter of next year, with a second round slated late in the year. The final round of layoffs would occur in the fall of 2020.

The company is looking to vacate 725,000 square feet of manufacturing space — leaving buildings on nearly 60 percent of its 86-acre campus vacant, the Union-Tribune reported.

Initial negotiations have begun between the company and the union over severance, benefits and training, J.P. Fletcher, area director for District 725 of the International Association of Machinist and Aerospace workers, told the newspaper.

“In this case there is a sister facility in Riverside that we are looking to see if there are any openings where we can get our people transferred up there,” Fletcher told the newspaper. “The issue is training. Up in Riverside they’re doing composite materials, where in Chula Vista it’s sheet metal.”

— City News Service

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.