EXCLUSIVE-Boeing hires pilots for airlines to help relaunch 737 MAX -sources

SEATTLE, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Boeing Co is hiring up to 160 pilots to be embedded at airlines in its latest bid to ensure its 737 MAX has a smooth comeback after a 20-month safety ban, according to a recruitment document seen by Reuters and people familiar with the move.

The new “Global Engagement Pilots” will act as instructors or cockpit observers on 35-day assignments at an equivalent annual salary that could reach $200,000, for a total potential cost of $32 million, one of the people said.

The unusual hiring spree is part of a Boeing campaign to protect the re-launch of its redesigned 737 MAX from operational glitches and rebuild trust following crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed a total of 346 people.

The strategy also includes 24/7 surveillance of 737 MAX flights globally and talking points for flight attendants to reassure passengers who express concern.

“Duties include: consulting activities and assist in customer support, including flying opportunities,” according to a summary seen by Reuters of job terms from a contracting firm carrying out the recruitment on behalf of Boeing.

Pilots must have 1,000 hours of instructor experience and “no incidents, accidents, losses or violations,” and be licensed on the 737 and other Boeing jetliners, it said.

“We continue to work closely with global regulators and customers to safely return the 737-8 and 737-9 to service worldwide,” a Boeing spokeswoman said. (Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle Editing by Tim Hepher and David Gregorio)