Boeing to cut up to 1,700 engineering jobs, with up to 700 layoffs

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The head of engineering at Boeing Co.’s Commercial Airplanes unit informed managers Thursday the jetmaker will reduce its engineering workforce by up to 1,700 positions this year, with as many as 700 job cuts coming through layoffs.

Layoff notices to the first of those employees will go out today.

Vice president of engineering Mike Delaney sent an email to all his engineering managers outlining the cuts ahead and the reasons behind them.

Delaney said that because development work is now complete on the 747-8, the 787-9 and the KC-46 Air Force tanker, Boeing’s commercial jet unit “will require fewer employees by year-end.”

“Overall, we must reduce our engineering employment level by 1,500 to 1,700 positions during 2013,” Delaney wrote.

He said Boeing has “significantly scaled back external hiring” in the past year and since last fall has steadily reduced use of contract employees.

Since October, “almost 700 contract employees have left the payroll, and we will continue that effort where appropriate. Additionally, attrition associated with retirements and other departures has reduced employment. That, too, will continue,” he wrote.

“Unfortunately and unavoidably, we must take additional actions,” Delaney added. “Beginning tomorrow and through the rest of 2013, we will issue 60-day layoff notices to as many as 700 employees.”

He said the first layoff notices will go out today to 100 manufacturing engineers.

Last week, a manager on the 787 program sent an email to the manufacturing engineers warning them of an imminent downsizing.