How many contractors does it take to run Boeing?

Or, Why shouldn’t Boeing be the gold standard of flight training?

By Tom McCarty, SPEEA President

I wish these were rhetorical questions but unfortunately – they are not. I have been sitting in on the negotiations between our SPEEA-Airplane Manufacturing Pilots Association (AMPA) pilots and The Boeing Company. I think this is one of the most complex negotiations SPEEA has ever undertaken. I am asking for your patience while I explain what is going on. These negotiations are important to all of us, but they are critical to the simulator instructor pilots who are losing their jobs. Soon many, if not all, of the pilots SPEEA represents may be gone.

This is the first negotiation with Boeing since AMPA joined SPEEA. To make it more complicated, this is the first contract negotiation for the simulator instructor pilots and safety, standards and technical pilots who voted to become SPEEA-represented last year. Now the final twist, Boeing has announced that all the full-motion simulators will move from the Longacres facility in Renton to Miami. The simulator instructor pilots currently working at Longacres will not be offered jobs as simulator instructors at the Miami facility. This means the current round of negotiations is for both a new contract and “effects bargaining.” This effects bargaining is negotiations with Boeing to mitigate the effects of job loss due to the relocation of the flight simulators to Miami. If your question is: Won’t one finish before the other is started, the answer is yes, or maybe, but I’m not sure which one. Boeing negotiators make it clear they intend to replace the existing full-time Boeing simulator instructor pilots with contractors. I read various reasons for this change in the news media. One Boeing spokesperson indicated the customers prefer the Miami location and also pointed out the personnel at the Miami location would be non-union. It was not clear if this would improve the quality of the instruction or was offered as an apology. It is worth noting that, because of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), those employees could decide to be union represented. It’s not really up to Boeing to decide who may or may not be union represented.

Gold standard

I would like to make a stronger case for my original question. Why shouldn’t Boeing be the gold standard of flight crew training? The simple answer is – Boeing should be the gold standard. Crew training is far too important to leave to chance. This was recognized early when Boeing gained a premier position and reputation for its commercial aircraft. Previous company leadership recognized the value in providing their airline customers training with Boeing pilots as part of the sale of new aircraft. This ensured flight crews received the best instruction which enabled airline crews to get the best efficiency and performance from our aircraft.

There are many qualified instructor pilots, and there are other flight training services that can provide fully compliant flight instruction on Boeing models. But I think it is clearly in the interest of Boeing to maintain customer flight crew training with full-time Boeing employees. I also argue that this is not only in the “interest” of Boeing, but it is a responsibility we should embrace. It is wrong to apply cost-accounting principles which dictate flight crew training to be an “independent profit center” and especially where the support of our airline customers is concerned. These services have to be considered part of the holistic approach we take to customers and to the future of aviation. It can never be in our interest to have customers accept delivery of an airplane and then turn it over to flight crews who have not had the opportunity to fly and learn the intricacies of that aircraft from full-time, experienced Boeing pilots. This is the only way customers get the best possible operation of Boeing aircraft.

Full-time commitment

So, I come back to my longstanding argument which I will repeat at the risk of stating the obvious. The premise is this: A team is more likely to achieve its best results when all the team has a stake in the outcome. This is fundamental and has been stated many ways by many people, and yet it seems the concept is not readily understood. Contractors by definition are not here for the long term. Contractors are here to collect their pay for the work they did today. A full-time employee is more committed to the success of the enterprise. They want to get paid for the work they will do in the future. Boeing employees – including AMPA pilots – want the company to succeed, so they can succeed. A full-time employee has a personal stake in the outcome.

We helped Boeing earn a reputation for engineering, building and delivering the most innovative, efficient and safe aircraft humanly possible. Tomorrow, we will come back and think of new ways to make Boeing products more innovative, more efficient and even safer.

I know everyone who designs Boeing airplanes, builds Boeing airplanes and teaches other people to fly Boeing airplanes has the same commitment. It would be good if we don’t have to wonder if management is out looking for someone who will do our jobs cheaper rather than helping us do our jobs better.

Boeing moving all simulators from Seattle to Miami

UPDATE 03/29/2013 - In a shocking move during negotiations with The Boeing Company on March 28th, and counter to previous Boeing statements by Jim Condelles in the media, negotiators for Flight Services informed our team the company intends to eliminate Flight Standards and Simulator Instructor pilot positions and will not offer to relocate these existing pilots to Miami.

SEATTLE - Decades of Seattle area commercial pilot training for Boeing airplanes is to end this year as the company moves eight full-flight simulators to Miami from Renton. The company announced the move Friday, March 8th in a hastily scheduled phone message to employees.

The Boeing Company claims the reason for the move is that customers in Latin America and Europe prefer Miami over Seattle.

Sherry Carbary, Vice President of Flight Services, claims fewer than 100 employees will be “impacted” by the move. Carbary assured a packed audience in Renton on Monday, March 11th that AMPA/SPEEA has “no jurisdiction” in Miami and Boeing spokesman Jim Condelles has said the Miami positions will be “non-union”. The company anticipates the possibility of a reduction in force, but Condelles says those workers will be offered an opportunity to relocate.

The decision to close the Flagship Boeing Simulator Training Center in Seattle was announced just one month into initial contract negotiations between the impacted AMPA employees and The Boeing Company.


AMPA/SPEEA open negotiations with Boeing Company

SEATTLE - On Wednesday, January 30th, the AMPA/SPEEA Negotiation Team held their first meeting with the Boeing management team to start work on a new contract.  Our team came prepared and communicated to management our high level interests, including the need to increase job security for AMPA-represented employees.

While outlining our interests to Boeing, management was less than clear when asked to outline the company’s interests or business plan for Flight Training. We are hopeful the company addresses this issue and can provide information relative to their needs for Flight Training when talks resume on Friday, February. 8 and continue on Monday, February. 11.

Boeing sends ‘contract pilots’ to Qatar and LAN as 787 outsourcing takes new turn

SEATTLE – The saga of 787 outsourcing at The Boeing Company turned a new chapter today as the aerospace giant moved forward with plans to send non-Boeing temporary pilots to provide flight crew training. For more than 50 years, Boeing flight crew training has only been provided by full-time, experienced Boeing pilots.

According to an internal Boeing announcement, flight crews at Qatar Airways and LAN Airlines are scheduled to be the first Boeing customers to receive flight crew training from temporary, contract pilots.  The temporary pilots have little of the advanced training required to become, and maintain qualification as, a full-time Boeing pilot, according to the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), IFPTE Local 2001, which represents the full-time pilots who belong to the Airplane Manufacturing Pilots Association (AMPA). In some cases, the temp pilots have less than one hour at the controls of the 787, according to the union.

“This means these ‘instructor pilots’ are ‘training’ Qatar and LAN pilots who have orders of magnitude more actual flight time and experience in the 787 than they do,” said Ray Goforth, executive director of SPEEA. “Full-time Boeing instructor pilots are available to support Qatar and LAN, but Boeing is choosing to risk its reputation and stick these customers with minimally qualified contract pilots in order to save a few nickels.”

In August, AMPA pilots unanimously voted ‘No Confidence’ in management at Boeing Training & Flight Services in an effort to raise attention and alert airplane customers to the scheme to substitute temp pilots for the genuine Boeing pilots customers paid for.

Launch customer All Nippon Airways (ANA), along with Japan Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, and Air India have, thus far, received flight training from full-time Boeing pilots.

“The humiliation for LAN and Qatar in having these temp pilots pawned off on them is startling,” said Goforth.  “Did Boeing even tell these customers that they’re not worth being served by genuine Boeing training pilots?”

Unlike Boeing instructor pilots, the contract pilots did not participate in the flight test and certification program of the 787.
Pilot training for airline customers is part of the complete line assist and flight training package Boeing includes with the purchase of a new commercial airplane.

“When Boeing customers buy a 787, they expect experienced flight and training instructors,” said Goforth. “They don’t expect Boeing to give them a temp flight instructor who has little, if any, actual experience flying the aircraft they are training others to fly.”


AMPA Pilots Vote ‘No Confidence’ in Boeing Training & Flight Services Management

SEATTLE--Members of the Airplane Manufacturing Pilots Association (AMPA) have unanimously voted ‘No Confidence’ in their management at The Boeing Company’s Training & Flight Services.

“Therefore, we vote that we have NO CONFIDENCE in the T&FS management to meet customer needs in a manner befitting the proud traditions of The Boeing Company.”

A bargaining unit of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), IFPTE Local 2001, AMPA includes the pilots who deliver Boeing airplanes to customers, including the 787. They also train the pilots of customer airlines.

"AMPA pilots took the vote after management abandoned a 50-year practice of only using qualified Boeing pilots and, without telling customers, now plans to use minimally qualified temporary pilots dressed in Boeing uniforms," said Ray Goforth, executive director of SPEEA. "The unprecedented vote came after more than three years of raising concerns and being ignored by Boeing," he added.

None of the temporary pilots have flown the 787 and many have not piloted a commercial aircraft in two years, according to SPEEA. According to the union, the temporary pilots have no more preparation on the 787 than the simulator training received by customer flight crews they are being dispatched to train.

“787 customers expect experienced flight and training instructors,” said Goforth. “This is flight training roulette for customers who do not know if their pilots will be trained by a genuine Boeing pilot or a temporary contractor dressed in a Boeing uniform. Worse, these temp pilots don’t have any more experience in the 787 simulator than the customers’ own flight crews. When a customer orders a billion dollars worth of airplanes, they don’t expect Boeing to give them a temp flight instructor who has never actually flown a 787.”

AMPA pilots said the temporary contract pilots receive none of the additional training and flight time Boeing pilots receive. Boeing Training and Flight Services hired the temporary pilots through Cambridge Communications Limited (CCL), a foreign supplier of contract pilots based on the Isle of Man. While Boeing pilots receive ongoing training and are required to meet stringent flying time requirements in the air and in simulators for each aircraft, Cambridge pilots are not.

“Even after quietly informing the company about the unprecedented Aug. 1 ‘no confidence’ vote, Boeing management insists upon moving forward with the scheme,” said Goforth.

AMPA pilots deliver first Boeing 787 Dreamliner to Ethiopian Airlines

Addis Ababa - Boeing Flight Crew Training pilots delivered Africa's first Boeing 787 Dreamliner on Friday, making Ethiopia the only country aside from Japan to operate the innovative aircraft in the world.

The airplane arrived from Dulles airport in Washington, DC, piloted by Captain Lance Lindsley, Captain William "Tray" Smith, and Captain Lisa Clark. They will remain in Addis Ababa for the next month, working with Ethiopian Airlines to ensure a smooth entry into service and deliver initial operating experience training to Ethiopian Airlines pilots flying routes throughout Africa and Europe.

State-owned Ethiopian Airlines – Africa's fastest growing carrier - has purchased ten 787 Dreamliners from Boeing. Each has an official list price of some $207 million.

Transport Minister Deriba Kuma said the delivery of the 787 was especially notable given the financially strained climate.

"This achievement of Ethiopian Airlines is all the more remarkable given the very bad global context for the airline industry," he said.

Boeing’s Safety, Technical, Standards and simulator instructors vote to join SPEEA

SEATTLE – In a vote that more than doubles the number of pilots at The Boeing Company represented by SPEEA, pilots and instructors in Flight Training Services are joining the Airplane Manufacturing Pilots Association (AMPA) bargaining unit.

The year-long effort to join with fellow pilots culminated Thursday (May 10) when votes were counted at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 19 office in Seattle. The tally showed an overwhelming victory for union advocates with 48 ‘yes’ and 11 ‘no’ votes. The expanded AMPA/SPEEA bargaining unit now includes 105 members.

The newest members of the bargaining unit share the same concerns as AMPA and SPEEA about maintaining the quality of flight services and training in the face of Boeing’s continued use of contract workers.

“We didn’t have to do this, but we needed to have a stronger voice,” said Mike Coker, safety pilot and member of the organizing committee. “Our group has a lot of experience and we want to use it to ensure Boeing has the best training and support possible.”

Responsible for all technical, safety and flight standards, along with instructing in simulators, the newest members of AMPA/SPEEA work primarily in Renton. Like existing AMPA members, the work includes training the pilots of airline customers on Boeing aircraft, including the 787. AMPA pilots also deliver aircraft from Boeing factories to customers. The work takes members to training and customer facilities around the world.

“These pilots are respected throughout the aviation industry as the leaders in Flight Training and now they’ve taken a big step to gain the respect and voice they deserve at Boeing,” said SPEEA President Tom McCarty.

“Boeing and SPEEA have had a successful collective bargaining relationship since 1946,” added SPEEA Executive Director Ray Goforth. “The growing ranks of professionals joining SPEEA will broaden and deepen that relationship.”

On Friday, May 18, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 19 certified the results of the recent union-authorization election and issued a Certification of Representation, making it official that Standards, Technical, and Safety pilots, along with Simulator Instructors are now part of the AMPA/SPEEA bargaining unit.

A meeting is now being scheduled to bring all AMPA members together and discuss and plan for negotiations.

NRLB decides for pilots and instructors!

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decided today that Standards, Safety, Technical and Pilot Instructors at The Boeing Company will vote in a union-representation election to join the Airplane Manufacturing Pilot Association (AMPA) bargaining unit of SPEEA.

“Boeing’s arguments that an Armour Globe election was inappropriate were completely rejected by the NLRB,” said SPEEA Executive Director Ray Goforth. “The Armour Globe election process allows employees to vote and join an existing bargaining unit rather than creating a new bargaining unit. In this case, employees will vote to join the existing AMPA bargaining unit.”

A date has not yet been set for the NLRB administered election but it could take place within the next 30 days. The decision sets forth who is in the voting group. Boeing must provide a list of the employees by Thursday, March 29.

According to the decision, the employees include:

“All full-time and regular-part time standards pilots, safety pilots, technical pilots, and simulator-only pilots/instructors employed by the Employer at or out of its Renton, Washington facilities; excluding pilots on Pilot Early Leave, BTE pilots, executive pilots, pilots located and working remotely outside the State of Washington, office clericals, guards and supervisors as defined in the Act.”

While Boeing can ask the NLRB to review the decision, the election would likely proceed on schedule with cast ballots impounded and counted after a decision on the review.

Flight Training Pilot Instructors organizing

Now two months past the original petition filing for Standards, Technical and Safety pilots (ADPX) seeking a vote to join the AMPA/SPEEA bargaining unit, our group has expanded to include Flight Training Pilot Instructors (simulator-only instructors). The opportunity to expand the effort to include additional employees started with the initial NLRB hearing in January and the post-hearing legal briefs that resulted from the four days of testimony.

In the legal briefs filed by Boeing, attorneys working for the company made several arguments to keep ADPX pilots from voting to gain union representation. One of the arguments was that the ADPX group was not appropriate because it left out Pilot Instructors:

“… there is clear evidence that AMPA pilots share many of the same job duties as simulator-only instructors, but the union does not seek to include them in this petition.  Thus, due to the lack of job duty overlap between petitioned-for ADPX pilot and AMPA pilots and the fact the union does not seek to include employees with whom AMPA pilots actually share job duties, the Petition should be dismissed”

Lacking enough information to decide this issue, the NLRB reopened its hearing to gather more information on Flight Training Pilot Instructors. In response to this new tactic to stop our organizing effort, AMPA members quickly met, discussed the situation and voted overwhelmingly to include Pilot Instructors into the campaign to join the AMPA/SPEEA bargaining unit.  Pilot Instructors eagerly and overwhelmingly joined the effort. As Pilot Instructors were signing union authorization cards, AMPA was amending our petition. The amended petition, now including Pilot Instructors in the proposed voting group, was filed at the start of the reopened hearing.

Despite the fact Boeing’s legal brief talked of including Pilot Instructors, faced with an amended petition that included Pilot Instructors, company attorneys called the change a “surprise tactic” that the union “sprang … upon the company.” The reopened hearing lasted less than two days. Post-hearing legal briefs were submitted Thursday, March 1.

In Boeing’s new brief, the company appears to flip-flop on the issue of including Pilot Instructors. This time, seeking their removal from the group that will vote in a NLRB union authorization election:

“The petitioned-for amended unit is either over-inclusive or under-inclusive and, if approved, would result in a fractured unit consisting of an arbitrary segment of the Company’s workforce.”

The NLRB will review all evidence and testimony provided in both hearings, as well as all of the legal briefs submitted by Boeing and AMPA/SPEEA.

The decision of whether Standards, Technical and Safety pilots, and Flight Training Pilot Instructors are an “appropriate voting group” that shares a “community of interest” with pilots in the AMPA/SPEEA bargaining unit will be decided by NLRB Region 19.

If the NLRB decides in favor of employees organizing, a date is set for us to vote in an Armour-Globe election.  If a majority of employees then vote “Yes” to join AMPA, the AMPA bargaining unit could grow to more than 100 members.

Safety, Technical and Standards pilots organizing

Non-union Safety, Technical and Standards pilots met at SPEEA Nov. 21 to discuss next steps in joining the Airplane Manufacturing Pilots Association (AMPA)-SPEEA bargaining unit.

The pilots reached out to AMPA to organize because, like AMPA, they see their ranks shrinking due to Boeing outsourcing of pilot jobs overseas.

“As a former AMPA member, I know the benefits and protections that a union can afford, while at the same time keeping the company's success as a priority, said Bob Botnick, standards pilot and a member of the Organizing Committee. “Joining AMPA will give us back the stability, security and open communications that is necessary for a successful work environment.”

Voting members of the AMPA bargaining unit unanimously approved non-union pilot groups to organize into their bargaining unit on Nov. 18, after several Safety, Technical and Standards pilots (job code: ADPX) asked how they can also have the protections of a contract.“

We are happy that other pilots see the benefits of coming together and speaking with one voice,” said Dave Whitacre, president of AMPA and SPEEA Council Rep. “AMPA welcomes and encourages non-union Boeing pilots to join us.”

Pilots began signing union-authorization cards Nov. 21, with the goal of joining the AMPA bargaining unit. The pilots seek an “Armour-Globe” election, a common way for employees to join an existing union’s bargaining unit, rather than create a new bargaining unit and negotiate a new contract.

AMPA Organizing Page


AMPA would like to congratulate the following members on their retirements or moves to other departments within Boeing. We wish you the best of luck and continued success!

Tom Griffin - hired at technical
Ken Donough - retired
Paul Wallis - hired 767 fleet manager

Boeing Pilots win layoff arbitration!

AMPA has won the grievance filed against the company regarding wrongful layoff of AMPA pilots. The furloughed pilots are all to be made whole for lost wages and benefits for the time they were unemployed.

Boeing's Manufacturing Pilots unanimously vote to Join SPEEA

The process started last fall when the pilots voted to seek SPEEA representation, followed by unanimous votes of the SPEEA Council and SPEEA Executive Board. After working through the transition, the pilots voted unanimously Feb. 2 to take the final step. AMPA is now a new bargaining unit within the SPEEA Northwest Region. AMPA pursued SPEEA after seeing their ranks shrink due to Boeing outsourcing of pilot jobs overseas.


AMPA would like to congratulate the following members on their recent moves other departments within Boeing. We wish you the best of luck in your new positions and continued success!

Sam Goodwill - hired at safety
Bill Reed - hired at safety
Brad Byrd - hired at technical
Vince Eckelkamp - hired at production

The Boeing Company announces intent to recall all furloughed FT-A pilots.

In a meeting held with the membership, it was announced that the "warn notices" for all FT-A pilots have been rescinded.


AMPA would like to congratulate the following members on their recent moves other departments within Boeing. We wish you the best of luck in your new positions and continued success!

Doug Allington - hired at technical
Ted Grady - hired at technical
Rene Gonzales - hired as BBJ Chief Pilot


Over the last few months, FT-A has seen an unprecedented number of retirements. Their leadership, experience, and professionalism helped to educate the current cadre of FT-A pilots and our group owes you all a huge level of gratitude. AMPA would like to take a moment to thank the following pilots for their years of service and wish them the best of luck in all their upcoming life adventures!

Lonny White
Phil Ouimet
Art Ericson
Bill Burright
Ben Horton

A bargaining unit of SPEEA - IFPTE Local 2001

Who are the pilots of AMPA?

The Airplane Manufacturing Pilots Association (AMPA) are full time Boeing Instructor Pilots, Technical Pilots, Safety Pilots, and Simulator Pilots rated on all current Boeing models. We work closely with Boeing customers all over the world to ensure a smooth Entry Into Service (EIS) for their new Boeing airplane or fleet. Over a year prior to delivery we are interacting with the customer to determine their flight training and regulatory requirements.  We deliver new airplanes, accomplish pilot base training (touch-and-goes), and remain embedded with airlines for months after initial delivery. We operate their airplanes, within their route structure, training their pilots on line operations (line assist). Our Technical Pilots write the procedures, manuals, checklists, and bulletins used every day by pilots all over the world.  The Safety pilots in our unit are accident investigators who also conduct safety reviews and operational support visits to airlines worldwide.

The AMPA pilots take pride in the professional training and support they provide to customers of The Boeing Company and are proud of the quality Boeing airplanes they deliver. We understand that quality, professional training and support is paramount to flight safety and the reputation of The Boeing Company. As long as Boeing is manufacturing airplanes, our customers will expect the highest quality instruction and service, and the pilots of AMPA will be there to provide it.

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