NEW YORK, March 8 Boeing Co said on
Friday it is consolidating its North American flight and
maintenance training operations in Miami, a shift that will move
all flight simulators for the 787 Dreamliner and other aircraft
out of the Seattle area.
Miami is the company's largest flight-training center and is
preferred by airlines based in Latin America, as well as the
United States, Middle East and Europe, Boeing said.
Boeing spokesman Jim Condelles said the relocation will
affect some flight services employees, but it wasn't yet clear
whether it would lead to layoffs or relocations.
Boeing said the plan to relocate 787 training to Miami was
first announced in 2008, as part of its plan to move training
centers closer to where airlines need them.
"With the 787 grounded, there's a lessening of the training
demand," Condelles said. "There's an opportunity with that
situation to relocate to Miami."
He said the two 787 simulators that will be moved are
expected to be reassembled and certified by regulators during
the summer. In the meantime, Boeing will rely on 787 simulators
in London, Singapore and Shanghai.
The shift comes amid a growing need for pilot training.
Boeing's current forecast says the global aviation industry will
need 460,000 new pilots and 601,000 new maintenance technicians
in the next 20 years.
The shift also comes as Boeing's flight training pilots, the
Airplane Manufacturing Pilots Association, are in contract talks
with the company. The bargaining unit is represented by the
Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace
The union said the simulators are an integral part of the
airplane production and customer support functions in Seattle
and are used by engineers.
"Moving these valuable tools thousands of miles from the
engineering heart of Boeing is another example of (Boeing)
treating engineering as secondary rather than a core function of
the company," said Ray Goforth, executive director of SPEEA.
Condelles said the relocation was a business decision
unrelated to the talks. "It's nothing to do with labor costs or
work rules," he said.
The company already had closed locations in Dallas,
Louisville, Kentucky, Long Beach, California, and
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota.