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Originally published July 25, 2013 at 12:22 PM | Page modified July 26, 2013 at 7:06 AM

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Boeing moving more engineering work to California

Boeing told employees Thursday that engineering work on modifying jets for current customers and converting older passenger jets to freighters will move from Bellevue and Everett to Long Beach, Calif.

Seattle Times aerospace reporter

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Boeing is moving more engineering work out of the Puget Sound region to California.

Management told employees Thursday that aftermarket engineering work on modifying jets for current customers and converting aging passenger jets to freighters will move from Bellevue and Everett to Long Beach, Calif.

About 375 engineers now do that work locally.

Boeing spokesman Jim Condelles said it’s not yet clear how many of them will be affected.

“Some jobs will go away,” said Condelles. “It’s not to say all those jobs will move.”

Ray Goforth, executive director of the Society for Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) that represents Boeing engineers, said company officials told him in a meeting Thursday that more than half of the jobs will move away.

Boeing engineering chief Mike Delaney in May announced the company would establish new engineering centers in Southern California and South Carolina.

Delaney announced at that time that a separate set of engineering work — modifying out-of-production airplanes such as older 737s and 757s — would move from Tukwila to Long Beach, affecting as many as 300 jobs.

Condelles said the new move involves a separate group of engineers who work on modifications such as aircraft performance upgrades or interior refinishing, as well as passenger jet-to-freighter conversions.

Delaney, in his May message, said that, “We expect the Southern California and South Carolina design centers to grow over time,” and that, “We are presently studying other potential work packages” for those centers.

The Bellevue and Everett engineering group was the target of one of those studies.

In an internal message Thursday, Tim Copes, vice president of Fleet Services, told employees: “We have now completed that study and have decided to place the majority of the modifications and freighter conversions engineering statement of work in Long Beach starting in the second half of 2013.”

Copes said the engineering unit “will gradually shift its operations to Southern California over the next 18 months.”

SPEEA’s Goforth said the move is another “part of the company’s plan to diversify their centers of production.”

Boeing currently has about 2,000 aftermarket airline-support engineers in Tukwila, 500 more in Everett and 500 in Long Beach.

Copes’ note said he’ll hold all-employee meetings in Bellevue on Monday to discuss the company’s action.

Separately, Boeing informed the state’s Employment Security Department that it will issue 60-day layoff notices to 143 employees on Friday.

The jet maker issued 266 such notices last month, 253 in May and 1,038 in April.

Dominic Gates: (206) 464-2963 or dgates@seattletimes.com

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