Saturday, January 31, 2015

Aerospace Companies: Boeing (Continued)

A Qantas-run Boeing 767
Continuing into the 60s, Boeing bought Vertol Aircraft Corporation and made it into Boeing's Vertol Division. The CH-47 tandem rotor Chinook was developed by this division, and till today, it remains one of the major troop carriers of armies which operate it. The Boeing 727 was then released onto the market in 1963, and was the first commercial plane to reach a 1000 in sales. The president of the company then asked Malcolm. T. Stamper to guide the development project for the 747, on which the company's future was resting. In that time, Boeing unveiled the Boeing 737, which became the most successful small-and-medium range commercial plane of all time.
The Everett factory in 2011

The building of the 747 required the construction of the largest ever manufacturing plant at Everett, Washington. The plant is the size of 40 football fields, and was used for making the 747. The 747 first flew commercially in 1970. It has larger capacity and more range than any of Boeing's previous aircraft. Boeing also developed a range of hydrofoils during this period. 

The early 1970s were a bad time for Boeing; they had to deal with the decline of the Vietnam war, the completion of the Apollo mission, the recession of 1969-1970 and its 2 billion in debt as it completed the 747. However, in Jan 1970, the 747 flew its maiden flight with Pan Am, and has since completely changed the face of the airline industry, with over 1400 having being produced since then. The 747 is in production as of today, and has gone many improvements to keep it up to date with advances in technology. The 747 and its predecessors now form the backbone of many large airline companies.

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The B-2 Spirit
After the 70s, things began to get back on track. Many commercial planes became the basic equipment of large airliners. Also, their military counterparts revamped many an air force. However, in these changing times, Boeing came under fire by a newcomer in the aerospace industry, namely Airbus. This European company will be the topic of a future post. The company also was involved in the International Space Station project and contributed to the Space Shuttle. Boeing was also heavily involved in the B-2 Spirit project, which you can read about in the respective Iconic Aircraft post.
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Two F-22 Raptors.
Boeing lost to Lockheed
Martin over the development of
this plane.

In the 1990s, Boeing, along with Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics, formed a partnership for the Advanced Tactical Fighter, which was later developed into F-22 Raptor, an extremely advanced and deadly fighter. Later that decade, the Boeing 777 was launched, and it became the longest-range twin-engine plane of that time, and also the first to sport a complete computerized system (fly-by-wire). In '96, the company acquired Rockwell, which later became a subsidiary of Boeing called Boeing North American. It also merged with McDonnell Douglas, famous for its fighters like the F-4 Phantom II, among others.

A 787 Dreamliner in flight

After that, into the 21st century, Boeing has contributed hugely to various aspects of air and space flight, including their entry for the Joint Strike Fighter competition (which was won by Lockheed Martin), upgraded versions of their various commercial liners, new commercial planes which could fly for a day non-stop and also the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which used technology from the Sonic Cruiser project, which aimed at building a plane that could fly just under the speed of sound. However, this and many other projects were cancelled due to Airbus taking over the head position on the market after several decades of competing with Boeing. The company however, remains an important defence contractor in the US.


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