17. When DARA was formed on 1 April 1999 it merged
two agencies into one (paragraph 1). There had been duplication
and under-utilisation of facilities in both, we were told, which
DARA's rationalisation programme is intended to eliminate.
In benchmarking against industry and similar operations abroad,
DARA told us that it was clear that it had too many people for
the output it produced. From the start, DARA's management structure
was based on functions, rather than sites, specifically to address
this fundamental problem. Managing 'avionics' as an entity, for
example, had highlighted duplication of capacity to undertake
this sort of work, which had been spread over several sites. The
aim of DARA's rationalisation programme, its Chief Executive told
us, is to reduce its overheads and make it more competitive in
an increasingly aggressive marketplace. 
18. Within the Agency, separate study groups have
been looking at options for rationalising engines, components
and airframes work, as well as pay, personnel management and recruitment
functions which are currently conducted at more than one site.
The principal potential rationalisations are shown in Figure 1.
These include some internal reorganisation of avionics facilities
at Sealand to occupy fewer buildings within that site. For mechanical
components, St Athan work may move to Almondbank (the study looking
at this is due to report in the very near future).
There is spare capacity at Almondbank, we were told, with people
on 'waiting-time'. Two of the relocations involved have attracted
particular controversythe transfer of engine work from
St Athan to Fleetlands in Hampshire (already decided and announced)
which will concentrate all engine work at Fleetlands, and the
possible transfer of fixed-wing airframe repair work to
a new site (probably at Cardiff Airport). These are examined in
more detail below.
19. After a period of rationalisation in the period
before DARA's formation, the Agency's overall manpowernearly
5,700has remained generally stable.
There have been reductions (and some civilianisation of posts),
however, in the military personnel attached to the Agency, whose
numbers have fallen from 1,806 two years ago to 824 now.
In the current round of proposed rationalisations, overall numbers
at most DARA sites were not expected to change markedly.
The manpower implications of each of the options for providing
new infrastructure for St Athan's Aircraft Business Unit (paragraph
24) were similar, but being able to bring the Unit's disparate
elements together could (under all of the options) allow manpower
numbers to be reduced from the current level of 1,857 to around
The Chief Executive told us that any such reductions at St Athan
would be through natural wastage.