Boeing to move North American flight training from Seattle

Boeing Co said on Friday that it is consolidating its North American flight and maintenance training operations in Miami, a shift that will move all flight simulators for the 787 Dreamliner and other aircraft out of the Seattle area.

Miami is the company's largest flight-training center and is preferred by airlines based in Latin America, as well as the United States, Middle East and Europe, Boeing said.

Boeing said the relocation will affect some flight services employees, but did not provide details. A spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

Boeing said the plan to relocate 787 training to Miami was first announced in 2008, as part of its plan to move training centers closer to where airlines need them.

"If we are going to better serve our customers and meet training commitments and airplane deliveries as we ramp up on rate, the time to do this is now," said Sherry Carbary, vice president of flight services at Boeing.

The shift comes amid a growing need for pilot training. Boeing's current forecast says the global aviation industry will need 460,000 new pilots and 601,000 new maintenance technicians in the next 20 years.

The shift also comes as Boeing's flight training pilots, the Airplane Manufacturing Pilots Association, are in contract talks with the company. The bargaining unit is represented by the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA).

The union said the simulators are an integral part of the airplane production and customer support functions in Seattle and are used by engineers.

"Moving these valuable tools thousands of miles from the engineering heart of Boeing is another example of (Boeing) treating engineering as secondary rather than a core function of the company," said Ray Goforth, executive director of SPEEA.

(Editing by Gary Hill and Matthew Lewis)