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Businesses The Almighty Buck Technology

Boeing To Lay Off Hundreds of Engineers Amid Sales Slowdown (reuters.com) 120

According to Reuters, Boeing has warned its employees that it "planned another round of involuntary layoffs that would affect hundreds of engineers at its commercial airplanes unit." From the report: The latest job cuts followed a prior involuntary reduction of 245 workers set for May 19 as the company responded to increasing competition and slowing aircraft sales. The additional layoffs are due to start June 23, according to the memo from John Hamilton, vice president of engineering at Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "We are moving forward with a second phase of involuntary layoffs for some select skills in Washington state and other enterprise locations," the memo said. "We anticipate this will impact hundreds of engineering employees. Additional reductions in engineering later this year will be driven by our business environment and the amount of voluntary attrition."

Boeing To Lay Off Hundreds of Engineers Amid Sales Slowdown

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  • Yeah (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @07:09PM (#54260169)

    Some exec is looking at the millions he saved by getting rid of all that pesky R&D/QA and going, "Man, can you believe we spent millions on personnel who just made sure stuff worked right? Good thing that's all going to my fat bonus now."

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "Some exec is looking at the millions he saved by getting rid of all that pesky R&D/QA"

      Oh that happened already decades ago; R&D is now handled by university students who PAY for the privilege of having the IP transferred to their school...

      Then graduate with debt and zero guarantees of a job.

    • Electronics Ban (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ghoul ( 157158 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2017 @02:45AM (#54261567)

      Nope we are beginning to see the effect of Trump's electronics ban on Gulf airlines. They are moving orders away from Boeing to Airbus

      • by mjwx ( 966435 )

        Nope we are beginning to see the effect of Trump's electronics ban on Gulf airlines. They are moving orders away from Boeing to Airbus

        As much as Trump deserves a good bashing, what we're seeing started long before him. Boeing only sell two aircraft families at the moment, the medium range 737 NG family and the long range 787. Both of which face fierce competition from the Airbus A320 family as well as the A330 and now the A350. The issues that airlines have had with the B787 have hurt it now the A350 is operations.

        Also their withdrawal from the super heavy market has completely given that market to Airbus and their A380. Orders for B7

  • Hmz.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @07:09PM (#54260177)

    Why are the engineers always being fired first? Guess it's being something thougth by some random MBA course or something?

    • Re:Hmz.... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Fringe ( 6096 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @07:22PM (#54260243)
      It isn't really that the engineers get fired first; more like they don't even hire other disciplines now. The rest are outsourced to local manufacturers, or contracted workers through external companies, so it doesn't make the news when those reductions happen. Years ago Boeing manufactured a much larger percentage of their airplanes than they do now, and had a larger fraction of their administrative (e.g.) work done by employees.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        That is correct. Most of the Dreamliner [businessinsider.com] for example is made outside the US, and increasing amounts of engineering are moved as well.

        The days when Boeing made most of the airplane in the US are long gone, and have been for a while.

        • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

          The days when Boeing made most of the airplane in the US are long gone, and have been for a while.

          That was because they tried to open a new factory in America, and the Obama administration said it was illegal [nytimes.com] for them to build a factory in a right-to-work state (which is most of them).

          • Re:Hmz.... (Score:4, Informative)

            by Jzanu ( 668651 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @08:48PM (#54260631)
            You really need to read that article again, starting with the summary at the top. You are either illiterate or biased and missed the point that Boeing was violating federal labor laws by actively choosing to re-locate an existing plant to another state. Regulation of such actions is the squarely the NLRB's job [nlrb.gov]. Details of the actual complaint are here [nlrb.gov].
            • And your post contradicts the GP how?
              Whether a plant is new or a relocation is largely a matter determined by the bias of the regulators.
              • Re:Hmz.... (Score:4, Informative)

                by Jzanu ( 668651 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @09:05PM (#54260729)
                No, the timing of the relocation decision following a strike at the Washington plant such that the relocation was a punishment to those workers for the act of organizing and striking is what made the action illegal. Read it all again, and the NLRB page.
                • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

                  No, the timing of the relocation ...

                  There was no "relocation". The factory in Everett, Washington did not close, and Boeing had, and still has, no plans to close it. The issue was where a second factory would be built. Boeing offered to build it in Washington, if the union would agree to a long term contract with a no-strike clause. The union refused, and after a long legal fight, Boeing created the new jobs elsewhere. Some went to South Carolina, and some went overseas.

                  • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

                    by Anonymous Coward

                    Idiot the complaint dealt with the contemporaneous actual 100% real threat form Boeing to move the production line. Read the god damn web page.

              • by Jzanu ( 668651 )
                And if you can't follow legal documents here [nlrb.gov] is the law protecting those worker rights, from 1935.
              • So you think it is okay for a company to close a plant in a state where workers have rights and moved to a state where workers can be abused with twice the hours at the same rate of pay?

                In 30 years 90% of manufacturing will be done by robots in the USA. this will be good for a few and horrible for many.

                with luck we will switch to a just in time custom manufacturing using small businesses to keep people employed. with out that though huge numbers of people will be unemployed and sucking coffers dry.

                • So you think it is okay for a company to close a plant in a state where workers have rights and moved to a state where workers can be abused with twice the hours at the same rate of pay?

                  Yes, I think that companies should be able to locate jobs in any state they choose.
                  Overtime laws in Washington and South Carolina are similar, so I think you are spouting nonsense about that.
                  Hourly pay for Boeing's assembly line workers in SC is about 20% lower than in WA, but the cost of living is also considerably lower.

                • by khallow ( 566160 )

                  So you think it is okay for a company to close a plant in a state where workers have rights and moved to a state where workers can be abused with twice the hours at the same rate of pay?

                  Of course. I don't respect abusive labor unions, particularly in times when labor is under stress.

                  In 30 years 90% of manufacturing will be done by robots in the USA. this will be good for a few and horrible for many.

                  Unless, of course, that doesn't happen. We can implement employer-friendly social policies before then and keep that from happening.

                • So you think it is okay for a company to close a plant in a state where workers have rights and moved to a state where workers can be abused with twice the hours at the same rate of pay?

                  I don't think it should be okay, but I do think that it's somewhat inconsistent that it's permitted when the jobs are moved to a different country without worker protection laws at all, yet not allowed when the jobs are moved to a different state that must comply with the same federal legal framework.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Quick, name the professional body that regulates engineer's pay???!!!

      Oh yeah, unlike accountants, lawyers, notaries, or doctors, engineering isn't actually a profession. It's a masochist's wet dream.

      You ever hear about H1Bs for accountants, lawyers, notaries, or doctors?

      Hmmm.....

      • Notary is a profession? In many of the United States, a notary's main function could be performed by a trained monkey.
        • As opposed to a trained computer? All jobs are performed by trained monkeys. Or maybe they're trained apes; I'll gladly admit that my primate terminology isn't all that great in English.
    • Maybe they are test engineers?
  • by aratuk ( 524269 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @07:20PM (#54260229)
    I wonder how this report squares with the one from late February that "Boeing and Airbus Can't Make Enough Airplanes To Keep Up With Demand" [slashdot.org]. Poor workforce management? One of these two stories must misrepresent the truth.
    • They took a hit when Trump announced "Cancel Order!" to their Air Force one bid. Our entire economy is built around short term stock bumps because most CEO pay is in bonuses and stock options (so that they don't have to pay income tax on it).
      • They took a hit when Trump announced "Cancel Order!" to their Air Force one bid. Our entire economy is built around short term stock bumps because most CEO pay is in bonuses and stock options (so that they don't have to pay income tax on it).

        Boy, it sure is a good thing that their projects don't last long, and they never have to think about the impact of short-sighted stupid decisions in the long run. I mean, how long do you really need an engineer to design an airplane? Surely no longer than a fiscal quarters worth of stock bumps, right?

        /sarcasm

        • after they get their bump. It'll cost more because they'll pay hiring bonuses but that's about it.

          The problem is our entire economy is being run by a well connected good 'ole boys network with very actual smarts. Things would go a lot smoother if we acknowledged our ruling class and took steps to reign them in but as things stand we just pretend they don't exist.
      • And I think was done so Boeing would be ripe for a takeover. Then after that occurred our Fuh...I mean Mein President would say they're a great company and the U.S. government fully supports their product.
    • by raftpeople ( 844215 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @07:49PM (#54260367)
      The demand for engineering resources and the demand for production resources don't necessarily coincide. The article you linked to is referring to production.
      • by aratuk ( 524269 )
        I'm sure there is some truth to this, but according to this story, Boeing is citing "slowing sales" as one of two reasons for the layoffs. How can that be the case, if demand exceeds production capacity?

        The other reason, "increased competition," seems all the more reason not to reduce the workforce responsible for developing the products in competition, if you can afford not to. Otherwise you're being very shortsighted, making yourself ever less competitive.

        There may be some detail to explain this situati
        • by ghoul ( 157158 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2017 @02:51AM (#54261571)

          Part of that is the long lead times for Airlines. Engineers would be needed now to be designing a new plane which would enter manufacturing 5-10 years from now. There may be enough manufacturing demand for the existing planes but not enough demand for a new plane. Actually since its pretty much impossible to forecast demand 10 years in the future most new planes are gambles and Boeing is not feeling flush enough to take the gamble. Things like Trump pissing off the rest of the world which takes away a large chunk of Boeings potential customers play into that. But other factors like China and Russia coming out with good enough alternatives meaning many of the middle income country markets will shift away from Boeing and Airbus in the 5-10 year timeframe.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      they're both wrong. they'll actually just hire new engineers via h1b within 12-18 months.

    • I called that story a load of bollocks back then - https://tech.slashdot.org/comm... [slashdot.org]

    • I don't see why. As a rule, engineers don't build things, they *design* them. Once the design is fully complete and you have a production model fully built and tested, I suspect you need far fewer engineers to build the next hundred. If you have lots of orders for existing models, but few orders for new or heavily customized designs, then you need lots of assembly technicians and may well be hitting the limits of your production facilities, even while you have a bunch of much more expensive engineers sit

    • There have been articles in the last several months about a slowdown in 777 aircraft sales. 747-8 sales never did really happen. 747 (and A380) freighter sales never happened as expected. Maybe redesigns are getting postponed? I'm told 757s are popular because there is no real replacement. Trump and the Air Force One order: I don't think anything has changed despite Trump's bluster. It is still a proposed purchase of 2 747-8s customized to meet Air Force requirements. They will be very expensive.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The Art of the Deal is about "self interest" not what aligns with everyone else. Wny would anyone think he was running for office out of the goodness of his heart? The "Art" is in exploiting people dim wits.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    There has never been, and never will be, a shortage of engineers.

    There is, however, a surplus of greed and stupidity amongst the 1% that means people with decades of experience and education are forced to run around like dogs on the street looking for work. Meanwhile none of the 'shareholder activists' and C level executives will ever feel even the slightest ounce of pain, regardless of how many failures they create.

    There was no purpose in winning the cold war - we have replicated the worst parts of the Sov

    • by Jzanu ( 668651 )
      Winning the cold war? Maybe part 1 by default, but part 2 since 1990 was lost as soon as the West failed to contain Russia from creating the war in nagorno karabakh and profiteering by supplying weapons to both sides simultaneously.
  • I wonder if the H-1B body shops will shift from computer services to aeronautical engineering soon.

  • I would assume the 787 design is essentially finished, which I assume means a big reduction in engineering. Is there anything else in the pipeline, or has commercial aircraft design become too expensive? Hire & fire is nothing new in aerospace.
    • I would assume the 787 design is essentially finished, which I assume means a big reduction in engineering. Is there anything else in the pipeline, or has commercial aircraft design become too expensive? Hire & fire is nothing new in aerospace.

      I thought the same thing. Wouldn't a slow sales period mean that you need less manufacturing workers?

  • by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @11:21PM (#54261151)

    In other news... Indian software contract houses today announced new billion dollar contract with Boeing,

    Staying with aviation news: The FAA today announced a new initiative to "update" engineering standards covering aircraft manufacture. a spokes person was quoted as saying "certain FAA standards, especially those covering software quality/safety in aircraft have been unnecessarily complex and burdensome to the aircraft industry for years".

  • Is this news? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Errol backfiring ( 1280012 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2017 @03:39AM (#54261639) Journal
    I have studied aeronautics and I was told that U.S. aeronautical engineers were called "gypsies". All the U.S. aircraft were designed by the same team of engineers, who were hired for a design job, fired afterwards and therefore went from factory to factory to be able to make a living. For us European students, it was totally absurd that you would have to spend a large part of your life studying and still end up as a dragged-around gypsy.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yes. I work in the industry and while I haven't heard gypsies, migrant Aluminium picker is common (a play on migrant farm workers). And while everyone here obsesses over the negatives, I have seen many positives come out of this, primarily the focus on keeping skills current and the interchange of new ideas.

      I have known far to many 'lifers' who've worked at one company for 35 and know exactly what check mark goes where, show up at 8am, leave at 5pm and take a one hour break from 12pm until 1pm. But ask the

      • by Anonymous Coward

        So what? People don't live to work. Those who have routine jobs do them best by using routines. They live outside of the office.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Years ago, companies used to have big R&D departments where these "lifers" could always try new ideas. Lately, most companies don't even have R&D departments anymore. Now they see anyone even attempting R&D, they call them lazy for reading a book.

    • For us European students, it was totally absurd that you would have to spend a large part of your life studying and still end up as a dragged-around gypsy.

      For European students it is probably also absurd that you make ridiculous amounts of money after your study doing it. It is a type of work compensated accordingly. One of my co-students and I went separate ways after uni. He went full gypsy. I stayed in a big city. 5 years later he bought a house in cash, I had the down-payment for the loan.

    • I figure it'll get worse as Boeing and Airbus reduce the number of unique vehicles in the lines going forward. Airbus is down to only manufacturing the A320, A330, and A380. And Boeing was planning on having three clean sheet designs (Yellowstone) - the 787, a new 737/757/767 variant (pushed back due to the A320 NEO as they developed the 737 MAX to compete), and a 777/747 replacement (likely the 777X). They'll each have variants but they'll probably just be variation in fuselage length for variable passenge

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