Ballistic Recovery Systems, which supplies the all-aircraft parachutes used by many manufacturers of general aviation and sport aircraft, said late last week that "in light of recent cutbacks from two of its major customers," about 25 percent of its workforce has been laid off. Most of the staff cuts were made at the BRS headquarters in South St. Paul, Minn. The company said the layoff may last several weeks to several months, depending on when its customers see their own sales improve. "The ups and downs of the marketplace, especially with this most recent and current economic downturn, require us to make difficult choices with regard to the labor component of our business," said BRS CEO and President, Larry Williams, in a news release. "The general aviation and sport aviation markets have taken a substantial nosedive recently (off 18 percent this year) with a potential further erosion of sales through at least the 1st half of 2009." Williams noted that BRS has other customers from outside of aviation to keep the company going, but nonetheless, "our core business lines are taking a substantial hit and we need to react proactively to this reality," he said. Cirrus Design and Flight Design are BRS's major aviation customers, according to AOPA.
"We will make it through this downturn, of this I have no doubt, and realigning our workforce to this new environment is one component that is required." The company's overall sales are currently strong, according to the news release, but BRS said it does not expect to be able to sustain its recent growth rate in light of the current downturn in the aviation business.