Boeing to open up to four new engineering centres, reduce staff in Puget Sound

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Boeing has released a plan to increase the presence of commercial aircraft engineers at up to three sites outside of Washington state, as the company reduces engineers in the Puget Sound area by hundreds through the end of the year.

The plan unveiled today will establish new engineering design centres in South Carolina, Southern California, Washington state and possibly one in Kiev, Ukraine.

Boeing also says it is relocating 300 engineering jobs in Puget Sound devoted to supporting out-of-production aircraft models to Long Beach, California. That decision comes two months after Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) says it will lay-off 700 manufacturing engineers this year, of which the first 100 will be cut from locations in the Puget Sound area.

Opening the new design centres in Charleston and Southern California follows a roughly three-year-old BCA strategy to diversify the geography of its skills base beyond the company's origins in Puget Sound. The Charleston site already employs 1,000 engineers and another 1,200 engineers work for Boeing in Southern California, but both are expected to grow with the creation of the new design centres.

Boeing earlier this year had already revealed plans to establish a base in Charleston for engineers working on the new propulsions systems of the 737 Max, the re-engined single-aisle that is scheduled to enter service in 2017.

The plan revealed today included a tentative interest in opening a new site in Kiev, the home of Ukrainian aircraft manufacturer Antonov. That idea is based on retaining Ukrainian engineers who currently work at the Boeing Design Centre in Moscow, but who wish to move back to their home country, Boeing says.

Engineers in the Moscow centre have worked on a variety of BCA programmes, but were most heavily involved in the design of the 747-8 Freighter and passenger-carrying 747-8 Intercontinental.