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Boeing's reductions, which will affect employees in the company's commercial, defense and space units, are set to begin during the first quarter of 2014 and expected to be completed by the end of 2015. Above, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner at the company's plant in Long Beach last year. (Brian van der Brug, Los Angeles Times / December 12, 2013)

Aerospace giant Boeing Co. announced that it would reduce its workforce in Southern California by 200 to 300 people who are part of its research and development unit.

The reductions, which will affect employees in the company's commercial, defense and space units, are set to begin during the first quarter of 2014 and expected to be completed by the end of 2015.

Boeing has about 700 employees in the R&D unit spread across Long Beach, Seal Beach, Huntington Beach and El Segundo.

The move is part of a companywide realignment that will establish centers in five U.S. states as it restructures its research and technology operations. The new research centers will consolidate development of various technologies for as many as 30 years.

"Our customers have a common need for new technology that can be integrated quickly and efficiently into current products and production lines," Greg Hyslop, Boeing vice president and general manager of research & technology, said in a statement. "With these changes, we are enhancing our ability to provide effective, efficient and innovative technology solutions."

The centers will be set up in Alabama, Missouri, South Carolina, California and Washington.

Employee totals are expected to grow 300 to 400 in Alabama, Missouri and South Carolina. Washington is expected to see a workforce decline of 800 to 1,200.

The announcement comes while Boeing has been searching for a site to build its new 777X twin-aisle airliner. The Chicago company has been on the hunt since the International Assn. of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 751 in Washington overwhelmingly voted to reject a contract last month.

The union and Boeing have since resumed talks, but more than half a dozen states across the U.S., including California, are vying to land the program.

The announcement Thursday is another hit for Boeing's presence in the Southland. In September, the company announced that it would close the C-17 Globemaster III cargo jet plant in Long Beach in 2015.

william.hennigan@latimes.com

Twitter: @wjhenn