In April 2020, Boeing’s plan to acquire Embraer’s commercial aircraft division fell through. The aircraft manufacturer from the USA thus not only missed the opportunity to bring a new model into the house with the Embraer E2 as a competitor to the Airbus A220.

Boeing also did not have access to the engineers in the Brazilian company’s much-praised research and development. However, interest in skilled workers from the country remained – and is not limited to the civilian sector.

As the Brazilian business magazine Valor Investe reports, two business associations are suing Boeing in a court in São José dos Campos. The Abimde Association of Defense and Security Materials Industries and the Association of Aerospace Industries of Brazil Aiab accuse the group of systematically recruiting “highly qualified engineers” to work in strategically important companies in the country’s defense industry. That threatens national sovereignty.

Abimde President said some companies have lost around 70 percent of their staff in certain areas. The plaintiffs are particularly concerned about the situation at Embraer, as Boeing would have had access to the company’s “proprietary information” during the negotiations for the purchase of the commercial division.

At the same time, the Leeham News magazine reported on an imminent “exodus of senior engineers” at Boeing. The reason is that engineers and technical employees represented by unions at the Puget Sound plants are currently having to submit their pension documents. “If they don’t even leave now, people could lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in retirement benefits,” Leehman said.

Several hundred of Boeing’s most experienced engineers are at risk of being lost – at a time when the entire industry is looking for good personnel. And it’s not the first time there have been concerns about the aircraft manufacturer.

In July 2021, Ron Epstein, an analyst at Bank of America and formerly employed at Boeing himself, said: “We wonder if Boeing is suffering from a brain drain as potentially too many experienced engineers have left the company in recent years.” The term brain drain refers to the emigration of highly qualified workers. The aircraft manufacturer has competition from Amazon and Space X, for example.

At the investor conference in early November 2022, Boeing boss David Calhoun contradicted – albeit visibly annoyed and vague in places. “Comments about an exodus, an exodus of our seasoned talent, here, there and everywhere, blah blah blah.”

“I see it completely differently,” said the CEO. “We had voluntary layoffs.” But you could always reach out to these experts again if you needed them. In truth, however, one was “forced to hire 10,000 engineers”. He recently visited a Boeing research center for autonomous flying and met brilliant employees there. “They’re all software engineers, AI experts, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and they’re in for the mission,” Calhoun said.

This article was written by Timo Nowack

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