Boeing on Friday began a major move to spread its commercial aircraft engineering talent and aircraft support staff around the US, announcing plans for engineering design and aircraft-support facilities outside of the Seattle area.The Chicago-based company said it would establish engineering design centres in Washington state, South Carolina and Southern California. The centres will compete with each other for work based on their ability to supply skills at the lowest cost, spokesman Doug Alder said.The company also is setting up a propulsion centre in South Carolina that will make nacelles, or engine casings, for the forthcoming 737 MAX jet, due to enter production in 2015, with engines made by CFM. On current 737s, United Technologies makes the nacelles.Final assembly of the 737 MAX will still be done at the 737 factory in Renton, Washington, Alder said.The moves will diversify the company's engineering base, Boeing said, allowing it to reduce risk by ensuring work can continue if problems erupt - from natural disasters to labour unrest.Boeing will increase engineering jobs at existing facilities in South Carolina and Southern California. The company now has about 1,000 engineers in South Carolina, home of its second 787 assembly line, and 1,200 in Southern California.About 300 jobs will move from the Seattle area in about six to nine months. There's no firm timetable or headcount for growth at the other centres, Alder said.The design centres will need to compete for work inside the company. "Everything is on the table," Alder said. "It's up for grabs for any of these centres to compete for the work that's coming down the road."In a related move, an aircraft support centre in Southern California that now provides quick access to engineering advice and spare parts for McDonnell Douglas aircraft will grow to cover all out-of-production Boeing aircraft. Boeing acquired McDonnell Douglas in 1997.Support for production aircraft will continue in Washington state. Source: Reuters
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