LOS ANGELES Boeing Co.
said labor cuts at its South Carolina facility, which
manufactures its 787 Dreamliner, arent related to current
issues with the aircrafts batteries but are "standard
The North Charleston, S.C.-based
unit of the parents Boeing Commercial Airplanes
subsidiary said it is "reducing our reliance on contract
labor," which has been part of its plan all along. It
emphasized that it is not laying off "any direct Boeing
Commercial Airplanes employees at this time."
A spokeswoman for Boeing South
Carolinawho said the unit has more than 6,100 employees,
including contract workersdeclined to disclose how many
people will be affected by the layoffs.
In line with "standard practice
in the aerospace industry," the company regularly uses contract
workers to supplement during production ramp-ups, Boeing said.
The company is currently building five Dreamliners per month in
South Carolina and at its main final assembly site in Everett,
Wash., with plans to reach 10 per month by the end of the
Although the spokeswoman
declined to break out the number of planes now being built in
South Carolina, she pointed out that North Charleston is due to
be building three per month by year-end.
The company said that, across
Boeing Commercial Airplanes, it expects to hire 8,000 to 10,000
people in 2013, with overall employment at year-end "flat or
slightly down" from the start of this year. It noted that as
the South Carolina operations have grown over the past few
years, contractors have been given opportunities to apply for
direct-hire work, and "many have taken that opportunity."
In contrast to the Pacific
Northwest, where most Boeing commercial aircraft employees are
located, workers at Boeing South Carolina are largely
Last year, Boeing said it had
launched two-year expansion programs at the South Carolina
division designed to increase the size of two operations at the
facility by more than 50 percent
(amm.com, Sept. 6). Among them is the aft-body
fabrication operation, which supplies 787 fuselage sections to
both North Charleston and Everett.
About 50 Dreamliners that have already been delivered remain
grounded while Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration
attempt to resolve problems with the aircrafts
lithium-ion batteries. Chicago-based Boeing stressed that it
hasnt cut its overall production rate on the aircraft
while the issues are being addressed.