April 01, 2013
Credit: Boeing/Marian Lockhart
Despite the three-month drama over a safe return to flight with lithium-ion batteries, Boeing has found a silver lining in its 787 playbook.
Boeing Flight Services took advantage of the lull in 787 pilot training prompted by the airplane's grounding to fulfill a three-year-old plan to reorganize training. One thing lead to another and soon Flight Services was rethinking where to run all of its U.S.-based pilot training. As a result, pilot training will shift from Boeing's Longacres campus near its aircraft factories in Seattle to Miami International Airport, a location the company says its European and Latin American customers like better.
The first step was set to begin the weekend of March 30-31 when the first of two 787 full-flight simulators (FFS) was loaded onto a truck for the trip. Dismantling of Longacres' second 787 FFS is set to begin the week of April 1. By mid-summer, the company expects demand for training to resume, assuming regulators will have cleared the aircraft for commercial operations.
The transfers are another indication of Boeing's willingness to move operations from its historic home city, just as it did with corporate headquarters and a second 787 factory. Most of the 500 employees at the Longacres campus were caught by surprise when the decision was announced last month.
The head of Flight Services, Vice President Sherry Carbary, says the timing is right to help Boeing prepare for greater training demand as it increases production rates. “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,” she says.
Boeing has been expanding pilot and mechanics training services since 2000 when it partnered with FlightSafety International to open the Miami base. Last year, Flight Services trained about 20,000 pilots, either directly or in joint ventures with airlines. The company projects growing demand. Its 2012 Pilot & Technician Outlook estimates that 460,000 new pilots and 601,000 technicians will be needed over the next 20 years.
Besides Seattle and Miami, Boeing operates pilot training centers in London, Shanghai and Singapore, and partners with airline customers at 15 other locations in the Americas, Europe, Africa and the Asia-Pacific region. Miami is already its biggest U.S. base, with 20 FFS bays. The city also is favored by others, including Airbus, which has its North American training center there.