A GLOBAL aerospace company that repairs helicopter engines for the Ministry of Defence is planning to axe up to 56 jobs in Hampshire.

The 200 people employed at the Turbomeca UK factory in Segensworth have been warned that more than a quarter of the posts could go.

It comes just days after Turbomeca announced that it was closing a factory in the United States with loss of more than 100 jobs.

The French-owned company opened the complex in Monroe, Louisiana, in 2008 after witnessing a surge in demand for Arriel helicopter engines but says market conditions have deteriorated.

Turbomeca, part of the Safran Group, blames the increasingly competitive global market for the cuts.

Under the plan the repair of Arriel engines will be switched to overseas sites, reducing the amount of work at the Segensworth plant.

Last night Sean Woodward, leader of Fareham Borough Council, said: “Aerospace jobs are very valuable to the local economy.

“They tend to involve highly-paid, highly-skilled people and I’m very sad to hear that Turbomeca is proposing to reduce its workforce.”

Fareham councillor Brian Bayford added: “It’s a bit of a disaster.

“When I was mayor a few years ago I was given a tour of the place. It’s a very comprehensive set-up and I got the impression that they were a pretty dynamic company.”

Turbomeca says it has entered into detailed consultations with employees and their representatives.

A company spokesman confirmed that 56 full-time jobs were at risk but said those affected would be redeployed within the group “where possible”. Other employees would be given help to find jobs elsewhere.

“The consultation period lasts until early December but there are no plans to make any changes until the new year,” added the spokesman.

The company’s UK chief executive, Federic Fourciangue, said: “The review of our UK operations is being made as part of a wider, global programme to ensure we are best placed for the next stage in our development.

“I recognise this proposal will be unsettling for our employees but I will be doing my utmost to ensure we fully support those affected.”

Mark Hoban, Tory MP for Fareham, said: “I’m obviously disappointed that Turbomeca is planning to shed up to 56 jobs.

“I know there are job opportunities elsewhere in the group and I hope as many employees as possible will be able to take advantage of that.”

Mr Hoban said Fareham’s unemployment rate was only 1.5 per cent and added: “It shows there’s a lot of demand for the right skills.”

Stuart Dunn, chief executive of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, described Turbomeca’s announcement as “very sad” news.

He added: “It underlines the competiveness that exists in that sector and how we need to support aerospace from a regional and Government perspective.”