FARNBOrough, UK — Boeing has no plans to launch a new aircraft for at least a couple of years. But Everett employs about 1,000 people, says Stan Deal, chief executive of the commercial aircraft division.
In an interview with The Seattle Times on the opening day of the Farnborough Air Show, he spoke about the state of Boeing’s global engineering resources – in the US, Moscow, Kyiv, Ukraine and Bangalore, India – and where the Puget Sound region stands. into his thinking.
He argued that Boeing Commercial could locate the engineering work elsewhere and still maintain its center of gravity in the Seattle area.
He also explained that he wanted his engineers back in the office. And he assured that, contrary to the doubts of critics, Boeing is working on its future.
The future of Boeing is being developed in Everett
As Boeing navigates the pandemic and eventually launches the new aircraft, Deal said the company’s engineering staff will grow and be more geographically diversified.
“But we will still have big development centers like Puget Sound,” Deal said.
The region will retain “the bulk of our engineering talent,” he said.
He noted that his 1,000-strong product development team working on the next new aircraft consists of a “group of advanced manufacturing professionals” as well as major aircraft dimensional and structural designers and information technology experts developing the digital tools that will be used. . integrate aircraft design and production plan.
As proof of the region’s central role in Boeing’s engineering future, he said the team is working out of the Bomarc building in Everett.
“We always have engineers working on future aircraft concepts,” Deal said. “I am very proud of this window that we just passed through, which was a trough like no other trough, and we were still doing it. None of these funds were stopped.”
In the conversation, Deal also spoke of a tougher stance on allowing engineers to work remotely.
He has made it clear that at this stage of the pandemic, he wants his engineers to return to their offices, allowing only limited virtual or hybrid work models. And he’s willing to lose some people moving in that direction.
He said teamwork and collaboration is essential to the company’s success. “What’s right for a business is to have a high degree of employee engagement.”
“The ideal environment for me is… most of the time in the office,” he said. “This does not mean that every day, every week. We want to fit the hybrid and we want to fit the virtual. But that’s on a limited basis.”
“Look, if there is any loss, there will be,” Deal added.
“But I don’t think I’m facing abnormal exhaustion. We don’t have the layoff problem that other companies have.”
Geographic diversification continues
Despite pushing for a future for his engineers in the Puget Sound area, Deal defended the dispersal of Boeing’s engineering talent to other sites in the US, including St. Louis; North Charleston, South Carolina; Huntsville, Alabama; and Southern California, the process accelerated significantly about 10 years ago.
In St. Louis, Boeing is developing the T-7 fighter jet trainer and the MQ-25 unmanned tanker, defense programs with innovative design and manufacturing methods that the company hopes to scale for its next new commercial aircraft.
In South Carolina, where Boeing builds parts of the 787’s fuselage, future work on the fuselage is the focus of engineering.
The Boeing Engineering and Design Center in Alabama works primarily on space programs such as the Space Launch System.
Engineers in Southern California provide after-sales support to airline customers.
Abroad, Boeing’s long-established pattern of engineering work has been severely disrupted by the war in Ukraine and sanctions against Russia.
Deal said work at the Moscow Design Center, which had about 1,300 engineers, was “quickly declining because we can no longer export any work.”
Employees left there are still being paid to do “some non-specific engineering work now, just filling out study guides, things that are subject to US sanctions,” Deal said.
He was more optimistic about the prospects for the Boeing design center in Kyiv.
About 1,100 engineers who work there were dispersed by the war, some of them migrated to Poland for safety, while others stayed.
Active and those who remained in Kyiv, and those who fled to Poland.
“These employees are working. We will keep staff there while we observe what is happening in Ukraine,” Deal said. “And once Ukraine clears up in terms of conflict and war, I think you can expect us to expand that center.”
“This is a very talented group of engineers that we have developed over the past eight years since we opened this design center,” Deal added.
Partly to make up for the loss of engineering resources in Russia, Deal said Boeing is scaling up design in Bangalore and has about 2,000 engineers there.
“It gives a lot of skills, not just in design, but also in our software,” he said, buoyed by the optimism of someone who had just received a major order from Delta.
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