The Rolls-Royce Crosspointe plant in Prince Georges County, Va., is set to close by mid-2021 as a result of weakening commercial aircraft demand, prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. The plant consists of two operations, one producing rotative discs and an airfoil machining operation for turbine blades and nozzle guide vanes.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a historic collapse in civil aviation, which will take several years to recover. As a result, we’ve had to make difficult, but necessary, decisions to protect the future of our business,” according to a statement by Rolls-Royce North America spokesman Don Campbell.
The closing will affect 280 workers, though these losses will follow those of 120 jobs announced in a downsizing effort in June.
The pandemic has been the cause of a severe reduction in commercial aircraft activity, which has reduced the service requirements for airlines. However, airlines also have cancelled hundreds of orders for new aircraft from Boeing Commercial Airplanes and Airbus SE, reducing the need for new turbofan engines to power those jets.
In May, Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc announced plans to cut at least 9,000 jobs from its 52,000-person global workforce, to address the "medium-term impact of Covid-19." However, the manufacturer of turbine systems for aircraft and industrial power has been working to downsize its organization over the past two years. In June 2018 Rolls began an effort to streamline its manufacturing activities and reduce complexity of its support and management functions. The new effort seeks to address the reduced level of demand in the markets Rolls supplies.
“Due to the significant reduction in demand for our civil products and services, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, we no longer have the workload necessary to sustain operations at the site. In an attempt to stem further layoffs [at the company] and retain as many employees as possible, we have taken swift and decisive action to reduce spending,” Campbell said of the Virginia plant. “However, the severity of the economic fallout from Covid-19 made the closure of our Crosspointe facility unavoidable.”The plant 30 miles south of Richmond had about 400 workers as recently as 2019. It opened in 2011, producing rotative discs for turbofan engines. A second operation, machining turbine blades and nozzle guide vanes, opened in 2014. The Crosspointe plant as the first purpose-built Rolls-Royce manufacturing operation in the U.S.