Boeing Co said it plans to eliminate a group of pilot training and standards positions as part of a broader effort to relocate flight training to Miami from Seattle that has drawn criticism from the union.
Boeing said the positions of 35 simulator instructors and five standards pilots are being eliminated. It said it informed the union of the change during contract talks on Thursday.
The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), which represents the pilots, said eliminating the positions could weaken Boeing's oversight of pilot training standards, particularly if the replacement workers are contractors who are not full-time Boeing pilots.
Boeing disagreed, saying Boeing pilots and instructors have the same qualifications as full-time Boeing pilots.
"Any pilots dispatched to train or fly with our customers are of the same high quality, receive the same training and ongoing courses and meet the same standards and qualifications -- regardless of whether they are full time or contractor," Boeing said.
Simulator instructors teach pilots to fly using sophisticated, full-motion flight simulators equipped with full cockpit instruments.
Flight standards pilots oversee the pilot evaluations that are done on the simulators and make sure the training meets uniform standards.
Boeing gave no indication of when the positions would be eliminated, though it said it is moving the 10 flight simulators used by these workers to Miami throughout the year.
"At this time we do not have open positions for those classifications at the flight services training campus in Miami," Boeing spokesman Jim Condelles said in a statement responding to questions from Reuters. "We are committed to do whatever we can to find equivalent positions either in the Puget Sound area or elsewhere at Boeing."
(Reporting by Alwyn Scott; Editing by Ryan Woo)