Boeing is a powerhouse in the aviation industry, long serving as the leader in commercial aircraft manufacturing. The history of Boeing is tightly linked with the history of US aviation itself as the company has been around for over one hundred years to date. In this piece, we will provide a brief overview of Boeing’s history, allowing you to have a better understanding of how they became the industry giant they are today.
Boeing traces its history back to 1916, founded by William E. Boeing who was a timber executive operating in the northwest United States. Boeing garnered his interest in aviation seven years back when he witnessed aircraft in the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition held in Seattle. From there, Boeing acquired a wooden boat building plant the very next year with the idea to manufacture his own aircraft. The company first began as Aero Products Company, though this was soon changed to Boeing Airplane Company in 1917. In their initial decades of operation, Boeing began producing a number of military aircraft for the United States. These aircraft included flying boards which were used by the Navy during World War I.
At the same time, Boeing was also producing aircraft for mail delivery as well as acquiring various businesses involved in manufacturing and airline flight, such as Avion and Pratt & Whitney. For these endeavors, Boeing established the Boeing Airplane & Transport Corporation, encompassing manufacturing and airline operations together. This company went onto become United Aircraft and Transport Corporation, that of which they merged much of their acquisitions under. United Aircraft and Transportation Corporation continued in operation until 1934 when US antitrust legislation forced the company to split into three separate entities. Now, the companies exist as Boeing Airline Company, United Aircraft Corporation (now known as United Technologies Corporation), and United Airlines. This split effectively separated the manufacturing entities from the air transport entities. During these formative decades, Boeing focused on the manufacturing of diverse aircraft including trainers, observation vehicles, torpedo planes, pursuit planes, and patrol bombers.
During World War II, Boeing was a major military aircraft manufacturer, producing notable models such as the B-17 Flying Fortress, B-29 Superfortress, and the B-52 Stratofortress. These aircraft were all highly advanced for their time, and their benefit to Allied Forces proved the usefulness of Boeing in the defense aviation market. With their experience in large military aircraft, Boeing soon turned to commercial aircraft as the war ended to compete with the likes of Lockheed Martin and McDonnell Douglas. As their plan was to allow for customers to take a single flight across the country, they made the shift from piston engine aircraft to those with turbojets, something their competitors had not tried yet.
As airlines were very invested in propeller and piston engine aircraft, it took nearly two decades before turbojets became more widespread. In 1958 however, Boeing released their 707 transatlantic airliner, that of which first began operation under Pan American Airlines. The 707 immediately proved successful as passengers were able to move between New York and Los Angeles in just a matter of hours. With this great momentum growing in the 1960s, Boeing then went onto produce various other successful models into the 21st century, those of which included the likes of the 737 and 747.
While Boeing was focusing on commercial aircraft during the 1960s, they were also investing in helicopter production, missiles for the military, and the Space Race. For NASA, Boeing developed air and land-craft, one major example being the Lunar Roving Vehicle that was indefensible for the 60s and 70s Apollo space flights. Additionally, Boeing also manufactured the Lunar Orbiter which traversed around the Moon in 1966. With their expertise, Boeing would continue to develop various systems for NASA leading into the present.
Nevertheless, Boeing remained primarily focused on commercial aviation despite their other pursuits, and their capabilities were highly advanced in the 1990s as computer-aided design and manufacturing software allowed for the 777 to be manufactured without having to start with the vehicle’s physical frame. Leading into the 2000s, Boeing initiated production for the 787 Dreamliner, but this project was marred by various stress test failures, production flaws, delays, and other issues. Despite these setbacks, Boeing pushed through to create the quickest and most fuel-efficient airliner that exists in the commercial aviation market, proving their continued success. Soon after, Boeing received many orders for the 787 by airliners situated across the globe. Presently, Boeing has continued to produce a large number of models, averaging hundreds of deliveries each year. In 2019, Boeing secured its spot as the largest aircraft manufacturer in the world.
Today, Boeing continues to operate as a key player in various aviation industries, and their aircraft continue to support countless airliners across the globe. If you own or operate a Boeing aircraft and require parts and systems for repair and maintenance, it is important that you only rely on a trustworthy distributor for all your operational needs. Luckily for you, Aerospace Store is an AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 00-56B accredited distribution platform with countless items ready for purchase today.
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