Layoff notices go out Friday for 100 Boeing engineers across the Puget Sound region.
The notices will be the first of about 700 layoffs that will hit the engineering ranks across Boeing Commercial Airplanes. These first 100 engineers are in Puget Sound and directly support the production system.
Boeing says it doesn't need as many engineers because the production systems on the 787, 747 and Air Force tanker are more mature and stabilizing.
The company adds that the launches of the 787-10X and 777 X are too far down the line to keep the engineering staff at current levels.
Boeing hopes to keep the layoffs to a minimum by attrition and not filing vacancies, but hundreds of engineers will lose their jobs.
In an email, Mike Delaney, VP of Engineering for Commercial Airplanes, sent this message to all engineering managers:
My message today provides context and background on actions we are taking regarding the employment level in BCA Engineering.
As we move from a lengthy period of non-recurring development efforts, BCA Engineering will require fewer employees by year-end. Overall, we must reduce our Engineering employment level by 1,500 to 1,700 positions during 2013.
We have already taken action. During the past year, we significantly scaled back external hiring to maximize redeployment opportunities across the function. Since last fall, we also have steadily reduced use of contract employees. Almost 700 contract employees have left the payroll since October 2012, and we will continue that effort where appropriate. Additionally, attrition associated with retirements and other departures has reduced employment. That, too, will continue.
Unfortunately and unavoidably we must take additional actions that will impact some direct employees. Beginning tomorrow and through the rest of 2013 we will issue 60-day layoff notices to as many as 700 employees in our function. On Friday, approximately 100 individuals in the Manufacturing Engineering (ME) skill in the Puget Sound region will receive notices. Those employees are the first to receive layoff notices because they directly support the production system, which has been stabilizing in parts of our major development programs. You may recall that several hundred hourly employees in Manufacturing & Quality also received notices.
This has been a difficult decision. We know layoffs impact individuals and families.
We are taking these actions now for two reasons. First, completion of non-recurring development work on the 747-8, 787-9 and the KC-46 Tanker will result in lower overall Engineering employment requirements. But also, potential development programs for the 787-10X and 777X, which might have provided opportunities to avoid these layoffs, have not been formally approved and launched.
I realize this news may be surprising. Commercial Airplanes has been on an upswing for several years. We continue to ramp up production on our major programs, and the prospect for future development work is very positive. The challenge we are facing is that those yet-to-be-launched programs are too far out for us to maintain present levels of employment.
We hope to mitigate the number of layoffs through the reductions we are making in contract labor, by natural attrition and by not filling many open positions. As we have always done, Boeing will support employees with layoff benefits and career-transition services.
We regret the disruption this situation may cause for some employees and their families but the prudent actions we are taking now will position us to remain competitive and provide future opportunities.
KIRO Radio's Chris Sullivan contributed to this report.