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DARA Components Almondbank

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DARA Components is a Defence Aviation Repair Agency (DARA) centre specialising in components for helicopters, located at Almondbank, and is Perth and Kinross's largest single engineering employer, with somewhere around 300 staff.

The facility has the capability to repair, modify and test an extensive range of hydraulic and transmission components used in both air and land systems for both MoD and civilian applications.

In 1960, the site was identified as RN Store Depot, Almondbank, Perth. Reference to the R.N. Store Depot

Since 2003, local politicians have been making much capital of announcements that this business is being considered for divestment into the commercial sector and, in 2007, described the selection of a Canadian company as Preferred Bidders as "Insane".

In 2007, the merger of DARA with the Army Base Repair Organisation (ABRO) was announced:

Merger of Defence Repair Groups 5/22/2007

The Ministry of Defence has today announced its decision to merge ABRO and the Defence Aviation Repair Agency (DARA) to form a new, in-house defence support group.

The new group will formally merge by April 2008. It will focus on providing a cost competitive, in-house maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade capability in support of the Armed Forces, operating where appropriate in partnership with industry.

Lord Drayson, said:
'ABRO and DARA, the MoD owns two maintenance, repair and overhaul businesses that have considerable and in some cases unique practical know-how in maintaining land and air based military equipment. Today's announcement will ensure that the MoD retains the intellectual property and design skills required to maintain operational sovereignty in key areas as set out in the Defence Industrial and Technology Strategies.'

'We will consult closely with staff and trades unions as the plans for the new organisation develop during the course of 2007.'

ENDS - ABRO media release

Company sale 2008

On February 5, 2008, the UK Government announced the sale of the Almondbank facility to Canadian owned aviation repair and overhaul company Vector Aerospace. While the company issued a statement to the effect that it plans to expand the operation, and increase staffing if appropriate, a spokesman for the union UNITE was issuing a statement to the effect that strike action in response to the decision was not being ruled out as they believe the business should be in the public sector.

AugustaWestland withdrawal 2011

In December 2011, AgustaWestland announced that it was withdrawing its work from the Almondbank and moving its operation (involving the maintenance and repair of components from Lynx and Sea King helicopters0 to Yeovil in Somerset in April 2012. It hoped staff would relocate, but that compensation terms would be agreed with those who did not want to move.[1]

In addition, Vector Aerospace made a call for voluntary redundancy among management and staff, so that it could maintain the viability of its facility.[2]

Radium clean-up announced for 2013

A number of sites which serviced aircraft during World War II have been identified as potential area of radioactive contamination which resulted from the lumenising of instrument dials using luminous paint which glowed in the dark and helped pilots see their instruments under low light conditions. Many such aircraft were scrapped, burnt, and buried on site at the time, to get rid of them as postwar surplus, as was waste material, without consideration for the potential contamination left behind.

The MoD said the decontamination was expected to take about 12 weeks and result in the removal of small volumes of radiological material from the ground at five areas within the site, adding that the work was being undertaken purely for commercial purposes agreed during the sale of the site and that there were no regulatory or human health reasons driving the work.[3]

References

1 BBC News - Almondbank factory loses helicopter repair business Retrieved December 17, 2011.

2 More than 100 jobs at risk at military helicopter repair centre | Dundee and Tayside | STV News Retrieved December 17, 2011.

3 MoD to begin clean-up at former Dara site in Perth Retrieved February 05, 2013.

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