The Boeing Co. on Friday announced plans to move its flight simulators out of their longtime home in Renton and consolidate them in a single location in Miami.
Boeing Flight Services spokesman Jim Condelles said the "vast majority" of local jobs would not be impacted, but approximately 100 local employees may be affected, including possible relocations or redeployments to other divisions.
"It's just not clear," Condelles said.
But Condelles also insisted the three-story building on Oakesdale Avenue, south of Grady Way, will not be shutting down and the company would not be moving out.
"The vast majority of people that support our training business . . . are staying right here," he said, adding that about 500 people work in the building.
The simulator consolidation is part of a larger Commercial Airplanes focus on customer commitments, stepping up efforts to meet market demand for Boeing products, services and support as airplane delivery rates increase, according to a press release on the move.
The plans are for Boeing to relocate all full-flight simulators used to train pilots and other devices from Renton to Miami, starting with two 787 training suites. Condelles said not only was the Miami facility twice as large as Renton's but it was only half-filled. The Miami facility is one of the largest commercial flight training campuses in the world, but only 11 of the building's 20 simulator bays are in use.
On top of that, Condelles called Miami the "preferred location" for many customers, especially those based in Latin America as well as the United States, Middle East, Europe and elsewhere. With this consolidation, Miami will be established as the pro forma flight training location for Boeing in the Americas.
"This is about getting close to our customers, doing what is right for them and bringing them the best product support and services in the industry," said Sherry Carbary, vice president, Flight Services, Commercial Aviation Services, in a press release. "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."
Condelles said the decision to move the simulators now also makes sense because the company's 787 Dreamliner is presently grounded by the FAA due to issues with its batteries, so there is less demand at the moment for training on the aircraft.
The move is expected to begin next week and the simulators are expected to be set up and ready for use in Miami by this summer.