Boeing will cuthundreds of jobs at a South Carolina plant that makes 787Dreamliners over the course of this year, but the move hasnothing to do with the recent grounding of the troubledjetliner, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
The cuts, which chiefly target contract workers, are notuncommon as productivity improves on a new airplane program andwere conceived before major problems with the 787s batterysurfaced, the Journal said. Two high-profile batterymalfunctions led to international aviation regulators groundingthe jetliner in mid-January.
The cuts could account for up to 20 percent of the workforce
in some teams at the plant in North Charleston, South Carolina,the Journal reported, citing an unnamed source familiar with theplan. Overall, the plant employs more than 6,000 people.
Boeing did not confirm the layoffs, but did tell Reuters itplans to reduce reliance on contract workers at the SouthCarolina plant.
"Boeing regularly uses contract labor and 'industry assist'to supplement its workforce during surge activities and ondevelopment programs that require a production ramp up - that'sstandard practice in the aerospace industry," said Marc Birtel,a Boeing spokesman. "As we progress in improving efficiencies inour processes, training our entry-level employees and growingthe experience of our team in South Carolina, we expect tocontinue to reduce reliance on contract labor/industry assist tomeet our production objectives."
The South Carolina plant is the second Boeing facility where787s are assembled after the larger Everett, Washington,facility north of Seattle. Between them, Boeing turns out fiveDreamliners per month.
So far, the plane maker has said production has not beenslowed by the grounding of the 787 and it aims to fulfill itsplan to ramp up to 10 787s per month by the end of 2013.