Boeing Satellite Division Cutting 250-300 Jobs

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PARIS — Boeing’s satellite division is laying off about 5 percent of its work force by November through a call for volunteers among senior nonmanagement employees as the company adjusts to changes in its markets, Boeing said.

Seal Beach, Calif.-based Boeing Space & Intelligence Systems said that as it transitions from a specialty satellite production business to one that features multiple satellites of similar design, it needs fewer design engineers. The company said its recent successes in the commercial satellite market will mean it is likely to be hiring production engineers.

In an emailed response to SpaceNews inquiries, Boeing said April 17 it had not yet sifted through the responses to determine exactly how many employees would be given layoff packages.

The company had expected it would accept between 250 and 300 layoffs from the specific classes of employees that were offered the package. The offer was limited to certain types of positions in Boeing’s total head count of 5,500 employees.

Those whose offer is approved will be notified in May, with the departures starting in June and ending in |November.

“This reduction is not due to a lack of business or to sequestration,” Boeing said in a statement. “It is a necessity due to changes in our business model and our continuing efforts to improve our affordability, which is triggering our need to rebalance the skills of the work force.”

With the U.S. Defense Department’s demand for new satellites expected to decline in the coming years compared with the past decade, Boeing has turned its focus to the commercial telecommunications satellite market.

More than any of its competitors, the company’s commercial wins in recent years have featured awards of multiple satellites at a time using Boeing’s 702 product line.

Fleet operators Intelsat of Luxembourg and Washington (four satellites), Inmarsat of London (three) and the combined four-satellite order from ABS of Hong Kong and Mexico’s Satmex are examples, as is the Mexican government’s three-satellite order. Boeing subcontracted one of the Mexican government satellites to Orbital Sciences of Dulles, Va., which specializes in smaller spacecraft.

Craig R. Cooning, general manager of Boeing Space & Intelligence Systems, said during a mid-March press briefing that the company’s commercial work now accounts for 30 percent of its annual revenue, compared with 8 percent four years ago.

The voluntary layoffs are expected to affect Boeing’s satellite facilities in El Segundo and Torrance, Calif., in addition to Seal Beach.