Boeing (BA - Get Report) will send a portion of its aircraft completion work overseas, as a new production plant near Shanghai will focus on painting and furnishing jets to be used in China, according to the Wall Street Journal.

CEO Dennis Muilenburg said that overseas facilities such as the plant it is building with a Chinese partner aren't directly harming U.S. jobs. He said the effort is an essential part of doing business in a China market that is expected to generate sales of 6,800 jets over the next 20 years.

Still, Boeing has been cutting its U.S. workforce through  buyouts and involuntary layoffs, with the aim of revamping its factories through increased automation and use of new technologies it says can lower the cost of jet and defense systems' production, the Journal noted.

The number of Boeing's employees fell to about 145,000 at the end of May, down 30,000 from 2012, though it hired 11,000 new workers last year.

Boeing is also testing the waters for automated, pilotless planes, according to Fox Business.

Boeing's VP of product development Mike Sinnett said the "basic building blocks" are already available. Automated planes would implement artificial intelligence to make decisions pilots in the cockpit make now.

Boeing shares traded up 1% to $189.98 by Thursday close.

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