SPEEA warns Boeing consolidation move implies lengthy 787 grounding expected

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An employee union fired back at Boeing's plans to move 787 training systems out of Seattle by suggesting the decision implies a belief by management that the fleet grounding will last several months.

The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), which is currently organising a strike vote for technical workers, says the move to consolidate the 787 simulators could keep them offline as long as 10 months.

"Taking 787 'sims' offline indicates that Boeing leadership expect [the] 787 fleet to be grounded for [a] substantial period of time," SPEEA says in a note to members.

Boeing says however there is no connection between the consolidation and the 787 grounding. "The consolidation is happening now, in part because of the window afforded by the lessened demand for 787 training at the Seattle campus," says the airframer. "We are anticipating the 787 simulators to be ready for training in Miami in the third quarter of this year."

SPEEA warns that engineers could lose their jobs as the Seattle-based training service unit is consolidated with the larger facility in Miami.

Boeing says that some employees "will be impacted", but the majority of flight training staff in Seattle will not be affected.

The decision means the number of 787 simulators in Miami will grow from 11 to 13, and become the hub for all flight training in the North and South America. The Miami training campus is also popular with European and Middle East customers, Boeing says.

Company officials have proposed a plan to the US Federal Aviation Administration that would allow the 787s to return to flight perhaps before a root cause is discovered for the battery fires that prompted a worldwide grounding on 16 January.

FAA Administration Michael Huerta says his agency is reviewing Boeing's "comprehensive" battery fix, and a decision will be made soon.