Boeing (The Boeing Company) is a leading aircraft and aerospace manufacturer, headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, with its largest production facilities near Seattle, Washington. It is also a defense contractor.
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2 Boeing products
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The company was founded by William E. Boeing on July 15, 1916, together with George Conrad Westervelt, a Navy engineer, and was named "B&W" after their initials. Soon the name was changed to "Pacific Aero Products" and, in 1917, the company became the "Boeing Airplane Company". William E. Boeing had studied at Yale University and worked initially in the timber industry, where he became a rich man. There he also acquired knowledges about wooden structures which later revealed to be of value for the design and assembling of airplanes. In 1934, Boeing had become a very large corporation, when the founder sold his share because of the legislation which came into effect after the Depression, forcing companies to split into smaller units.
Shortly after, an agreement with Pan American World Airways was reached, to develop and build a commercial flying-boat able to carry passangers on transoceanic routes. The first flight of the Boeing 314 Clipper was in June 1938. It was the largest civil aircraft of its time, with a capacity of 90 passengers on day flights, and of 40 passengers on night flights. One year later, the first regular passenger service from the US to England was inaugurated. Subsequently other routes were opened, so that soon Pan American flew with the Boeing 314 to destinations all over the world.
During WWII Boeing built a huge number of bombers. Many of the workers were women whose spouses had gone to war. In the beginning of March 1944, production had been scaled up in such a manner that over 350 planes were built each month. To prevent an attack from the air, the plants had been covered with greenery and farmland items. During these years of war the leading aircraft companies of the US cooperated together. The Boeing B-17 bomber was assembled also by Lockheed Aircraft Corp. and Douglas Aircraft Co., while the B-29 was assembled also by Bell Aircraft Co. and by Glenn L. Martin Co.
After the war, most orders of bombers were cancelled and 70,000 people lost their jobs at Boeing. The company aimed to recover soon business selling its Stratocruiser, a luxurious four-engine commercial airliner developed from a military aircraft. However, sales of this model were not as expected and Boeing had to seek other opportunities to overcome the situation. The company sold with success military aircraft adapted for troop transportation and for airborn tanker.
In the mid '50s technology had advanced very significantly, what gave Boeing the possibility to develop and manufacture totally new products. One of the first was the guided short-range missile used to intercept enemy aircraft. At that time the Cold War had become a fact to live with, and Boeing used its short-range missile technology to develop and build also an intercontinental missile.
In 1955, Boeing began delivery of its B707, United States' first commercial jet airliner, in response to the British Comet and the French Caravelle, the world's first commercial jet aircraft. With the B707, a four-engine, 156 passanger airliner, the US became leaders in commercial jet manufacture. A few years later, Boeing added a second version of this aircraft, the B720. A few years later, Boeing introduced the B727, another commercial jet airliner of similar size, which had however three engines and was designed for medium-range routes. The B727 was immediately well accepted as a comfortable and reliable aircraft by passengers, crews and airlines. Although production was discontinued in 1984, at the turn of the millennium nearly 1,300 B727's were still in service at airlines around the world. In 1967, Boeing introduced another short and medium-range airliner, the twin-engine B737. It has become since then the best-selling commercial jet aircraft in aviation history. The B737 is still being produced, and continuous improvements are made. Several versions have been developed, mainly to increase seating capacity.
In the beginning of the '70s Boeing faced a new crisis. The Apollo program in which Boeing had participated significantly during the preceeding decade was almost entirely cancelled. Once more, Boeing hoped to compensate sales with its commercial airliners. At that time, however, there was a heavy recession in the airlines industry so that Boeing did not receive one single order during more than one year. Boeing's bet for the future, the new B747 Jumbo Jet was delayed in production and originated much higher costs than forecasted. Another problem was that, in 1971, the Congress decided to stop the financial support for the development of a supersonic commercial airliner, Boeing's answer to the British-French Concorde, forcing the company to discontinue the project. The company had to reduce the number of employees from over 80,000 to almost half, only in the Seattle area. In 1970 the first B747, a four-engine long-range airliner, finally entered service. This famous aircraft changed completely the way of flying, with its 450 seating capacity and its upper deck. Until now, Boeing has been the only aircraft manufacturer to offer such an airliner and has delivered near to 1,400 units. The B747 has undergone continuous improvements to keep it technologically up-to-date. Larger versions have also been developed by stretching the upper deck.
In 1983, the economic situation began to improve. Boeing assembled its 1,000th B737 passenger airliner. During the following years, commercial aircraft and their military versions became the basic equipment of airlines and air forces. As passenger air traffic increased, competition was harder, mainly from a European newcomer in commercial airliner manufacturing, Airbus Industrie. Boeing had to offer new aircraft, and developed the single-aisle B757, the larger, twin-aisle B767, and upgraded versions of the B737. An important project of these years was the Space Shuttle, to which Boeing contributed with its experience in space rockets acquired during the Apollo era, in which the company also participated. Boeing participated also with other products in the space programm, and was the first contractor for the International Space Station. At the same time, several military projects went into production, like the RAH-66 Comanche helicopter, the Avenger air defense system and a new generation of short-range missiles. During these years, Boeing was very active upgrading existing military equipments and developing new ones.
In 1994, Boeing introduced its most modern commercial jet aircraft, the twin-engine B777, with a seating capacity of 390 passengers, in between the B767 and the B747. Despite having only two engines, the B777 is certified to fly routes over oceans and deserted zones, and is being sold very successfully. This aircraft, affectionately known as the "triple seven", reached an important milestone by being the first airliner to be designed "entirely by computer", ie. by using CAD software.
In 1996, Boeing merged with Rockwell International Corpís aerospace and defense units. The Rockwell products became a subsidiary of Boeing, named Boeing North American, Inc. One year later, Boeing merged with McDonnell Douglas Corp
|Commercial aircraft||Fighters and Bombers|
|Airlift and Tankers||Surveillance and Other Military|
Some of Boeing's notable space-related products are listed here:
|Propulsion and Payload Delivery Systems||Satellites|