MIAMI — Miami is now Boeing’s “Sim City” but Airchive’s home base has always been an aviation hub dating back to the early days of the industry. Hallowed names like Pan Am, National, Eastern, Glenn Curtis, Rich International, and Air Florida have played pivotal roles in South Florida and the world’s aviation industry. Today, Miami boast America’s second busiest international airport and number one international cargo airport – MIA, American Airline’s bustling Latin American hub, and the UPS hub of the Americas.

OK, maybe that last name is a bit of a stretch. Perhaps the most iconic name in aviation, Boeing joined South Florida’s famed aviation industry in 1997 when Boeing and Flight Safety established their joint-venture, FlightSafety Boeing Training International. In 2002 Boeing bought out their partner in full. Joining Airbus Americas Training Center and the Pan Am Flight Academy (just purchased this week by Japan’s ANA) both located on the same street, Boeing makes the little suburb of Miami, Virginia Gardens now home to one of the largest numbers of flight simulators and training in commercial aviation of any city in the world.

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With the event, Boeing marked the launch of 787 customer training with new Dreamliner operator Aeromexico and LAN Airlines as the first two customers to train on the two Thales 787 flight simulators at its $160 million Boeing Flight Services campus. These simulators, along with and a handful of BFS staff, were relocated from Seattle. The remaining Seattle based flight training simulator, a 777, will be relocated by the end of the year for a total of 17 simulators based in Miami. All current Boeing types including the 737 NG, 747-8I, 777, and 787 will be represented as well as an Airbus A320 (!), 717, a classic 737-200, 747-400, and a 757/767 combination. Other then the short-haul Atlanta-based 737 NG and 717, Miami becomes Boeing’s only training facility in North America.

First announced in March 2013, “Boeing is adding nearly $100 million in training assets to the Miami campus, representing a significant positive impact for the local Miami-Dade economy,” said Sherry Carbary, vice president, Boeing Flight Services. “The result will be a premier state-of-the-art training campus staffed by world-class qualified and experienced pilots and instructors all providing the highest quality training in a well-established, flexible and productive work environment.” Boeing attributed the move to the fact that Miami is the hub of the America’s and is easy to reach for most of its customers including Europe, The Middle East, and Africa making it more cost-effective and closer in terms of travel times then the relatively isolated Seattle. The Pacific Rim carriers can easily be handled via Boeing’s Asian campuses as Miami doesn’t yet have direct links to Asia.

It also doesn’t hurt that Miami has become a world-class business and tourism destination. Of the international campus locations including Shanghai, Singapore, and London, only London has more 787 simulators with 3 in place. “Miami has always been an important Boeing training campus and the largest campus in our global network. Now it will also play an expanded role in training the pilots and technicians who will fly and maintain the groundbreaking 787 Dreamliner”, said Carbary.

Boeing also established Miami as its de-facto flight training campus for the Americas — the location where airline crews will receive the initial training provided to Boeing customers for new model airplane introductions. The Miami campus is now the company’s largest commercial aviation training facility and is in fact one of the world’s very largest, if not the largest non-airline affiliated, independent commercial aviation OEM training facilities in terms of simulators alone.

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The campus isn’t limited to pilot training. Cabin staff and mechanic are trained here as well using teaching technologies such as tablets, eBooks, gaming technology, and even 3D simulated “walk-arounds” of aircraft. Boeing Flight Services trains 50,000 personnel at over 20 facilities worldwide per year including 5,000 currently in Miami, with over 70% of those from outside the United States.

boeing-miami-787-sim-int-8-hud-1024x680 boeing-miami-787-sim-int-1-1024x680The extensively covered event became a jobs rally led by Florida Governor Rick Scott, who is up for re-election in 2014, as well as a number of other local and state government officials and airline customers, almost overshadowing Boeing’s announcement of 100 jobs (including 25 training pilots) being created in Miami-Dade County. The aggressively pro-business Florida governor noted that Florida is the number 2 state in aerospace jobs in North America. Scott then half-jokingly suggested “Moving Boeing’s corporate headquarters from cold and windy Chicago to Miami would be nice”.

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Clearly playing to the local crowd, Scott went further by suggesting the Boeing should build aircraft in “pro-business, low regulation Florida.” With Boeing’s corporate move to Chicago and second 787 assembly-line in Charleston, South Carolina still fresh ventures, these 2 ideas are obviously unlikely to come to fruition. Boeing is making a $10 million annual contribution both directly to the area’s economy both directly and indirectly, including hotels, lodging, transportation, housing, etc. Boeing handed out a list of the many vendors it subcontracts out to and works with in the State of Florida.

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Boeing also took the occasion to issue its industry respected Pilot and Training Outlook forecast. Boeing projects that over the next 20 years, the industry will require 498,000 new commercial airline pilots and 556,000 new commercial airline maintenance technicians. “The urgent demand for competent aviation personnel is a global issue that is here now and is very real”, said Carbary. This is largely due to increased pilot demand in all regions except Europe driven by steadily increasing new airplane deliveries, airline expansion particularly internationally, and pilots reaching retirement age.

Boeing projects a global requirement for about 25,000 new pilots and 28,000 new technicians annually.

boeing-miami-787-model-3-1024x659 boeing-miami-787-model-2However, airplanes the new aircraft will require fewer mechanics over times as aging aircraft are retired. New airplane technologies featuring more advanced components are likely to lead to lead in some areas to lower maintenance requirements and lower technical demand. In terms of new personnel over the next 20 years, the Asia Pacific region at 192,300 pilots and 215,300 techs somewhat exceed Europe and North America combined.

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The Middle East and Latin America are identified as key growth areas as well. “This is a global issues that can only be addressed by industry-wide innovation and solutions”, added Carbary.