US military and commercial aircraft manufacturer, organized into two business units: Boeing Commercial Airplanes and Boeing Integrated Defense Systems. Among the models Boeing has produced are the B-17 Flying Fortress, 1935; the B-52 Stratofortress (1952); the Chinook helicopter (1961); the first jetliner, the Boeing 707 (1957); the jumbo jet or Boeing 747 (1969); the jetfoil (1975); the 777-300 jetliner (1997); and the 787 Dreamliner (2007).
The company was founded in 1916 near Seattle, Washington, by William E Boeing, as the Pacific Aero Products Company. Renamed the Boeing Airplane Company the following year, the company built its first seaplane and in 1919 set up an airmail service between Seattle and Victoria, Canada.
Boeing bought US aircraft manufacturers McDonnell Douglas in 1997 for US$16.3 billion, to create the world's largest aerospace company, manufacturing about three-quarters of the world's commercial airliners. The same year it unveiled its 777-300 jetliner, the world's longest and largest twin-engine aircraft of its kind, which would replace the four-engine Boeing 747. By 2006 the company employed 154,000 people worldwide and company revenues totalled $61.5 billion. In July 2007 Boeing officially unveiled its 787 Dreamliner which, built mostly of lighter carbon fibre rather than aluminium, was claimed to be 20% more fuel-efficient than planes built by its competitors (principally the European Airbus consortium).
Boeing's B-17 Flying Fortress and B-29 Superfortress were of great importance during World War II. The B-17 became the principal strategic bomber of the US Army Air Force and over 4,700 were in front-line service by mid-1944. The B-29 was devised as a replacement for the B-17 and first flew in 1942, mainly seeing service in the Pacific theatre. The Enola Gay, which dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on 6 August 1945, was a B-29.
The company has produced many components for NASA, including the Delta rocket, and the Inertial Upper Stage boosters for such probes as Galileo, Magellan, and Ulysses. It is also the prime contractor for the US components of the International Space Station, including the Destiny science module. In addition, Boeing supports programmes and systems under development by the US Missile Defense Agency, Air Force, and Navy, and the Secure Border Initiative managed by the Department of Homeland Security.
Despite an order book of civil and military aircraft worth US$100 billion in 1997, Boeing announced 20,000 job cuts in early 1998, following a loss of US$178 million, its first deficit in 50 years. Profits fell 91% in the first quarter of 1998 because of assembly line problems in building 737 jets. Also in 1998 the company announced the end of production for the MD-11 jet, leaving the 717 (formerly called the MD-95) as the only remaining model from McDonnell Douglas's range of jets. In May 2001, Boeing dropped its plans to build a super-jumbo jet, called the 747X. It also announced that it would move its headquarters to Chicago, Illinois, after 85 years in Seattle, Washington, citing financial reasons and the more central location. In December the company announced that it would continue to manufacture the 717 jet at its plant in Long Beach, California, despite earlier reports that the 717 would be discontinued. However production would proceed at a reduced rate, with a smaller workforce.
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