The Boeing Company was started in 1916, when American lumber industrialist William E. Boeing founded Aero Products Company in Seattle, Washington. Shortly before doing so, he and Conrad Westervelt created the "B&W" seaplane. In 1917, the organization was renamed Boeing Airplane Company, with William Boeing forming Boeing Airplane & Transport Corporation in 1928. In 1929, the company was renamed United Aircraft and Transport Corporation, followed by the acquisition of several aircraft makers such as Avion, Chance Vought, Sikorsky Aviation, Stearman Aircraft, Pratt & Whitney, and Hamilton Metalplane.
In 1931, the group merged its four smaller airlines into United Airlines. In 1934, the manufacture of aircraft was required to be separate from air transportation. Therefore, Boeing Airplane Company became one of three major groups to arise from dissolution of United Aircraft and Transport; the other two entities were United Aircraft (later United Technologies) and United Airlines.
In 1960, the company bought Vertol Corporation, which at the time, was the biggest independent fabricator of helicopters. During the 1960s and 1970s, the company diversified into industries such as outer space travel, marine craft, agriculture, energy production and transit systems.
In 1995, Boeing partnered with Russian, Ukrainian and Anglo-Norwegian organizations to create Sea Launch, a company providing commercial launch services sending satellites to geostationary orbit from floating platforms. In 2000, Boeing acquired the satellite segment of Hughes Electronics.
Corporate headquarters were moved from Seattle to Chicago in 2001.
After two fatal crashes of the Boeing 737 MAX narrow-body passenger airplanes in 2018 and 2019, aviation regulators and airlines around the world grounded all 737 MAX airliners. A total of 387 aircraft were grounded. Boeing's reputation, business, and financial rating has suffered after these groundings, questioning Boeing's strategy, governance, and focus on profits and cost efficiency.The Wall Street Journal reported on May 5, 2019, that Boeing had known of the issue with the system for "about a year" before the crash in Indonesia. In December 2019, Boeing announced it will suspend 737 MAX production from January 2020. Soon after, on December 23, then CEO Dennis Muilenburg resigned and was replaced by David Calhoun.
In May 2020, the company cut over 12,000 jobs due to the drop in air travel during the COVID-19 pandemic with plans for a total 10% cut of its workforce or approximately 16,000 positions. In July 2020, Boeing reported a loss of $2.4 billion as a result of the pandemic and the grounding of its 737 MAX aircraft. As a result of the profit loss, the company announced that it is planning to do more job and production cuts. On August 18, 2020, CEO Dave Calhoun announced to Boeing employees that the company plans another round of job cuts in addition to the 16,000 positions previously announced to be eliminated.
On 28 October 2020, Boeing CEO David Calhoun, in an email message to employees, announced to lay off nearly 30,000 employees, as the airplane manufacturer was increasingly losing money due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The airline industry is responsible for about 11% of greenhouse gases emitted by the U.S. transportation sector. Aviation's share of the greenhouse gas emissions was poised to grow, as air travel increases and ground vehicles use more alternative fuels like ethanol and biodiesel. Boeing estimates that biofuels could reduce flight-related greenhouse-gas emissions by 60 to 80%. The solution blends algae fuels with existing jet fuel.
Boeing executives said the company was collaborating with Brazilian biofuels maker Tecbio, Aquaflow Bionomic of New Zealand, and other fuel developers around the world. As of 2007, Boeing had tested six fuels from these companies, and expected to test 20 fuels "by the time we're done evaluating them". Boeing also joined other aviation-related members in the Algal Biomass Organization (ABO) in June 2008.
Air New Zealand and Boeing are researching the jatropha plant to see if it is a sustainable alternative to conventional fuel. A two-hour test flight using a 50–50 mixture of the new biofuel with Jet A-1 in a Rolls Royce RB-211 engine of a 747-400 was completed on December 30, 2008. The engine was then removed to be studied to identify any differences between the Jatropha blend and regular Jet A1. No effects on performances were found.
On August 31, 2010, Boeing worked with the U.S. Air Force to test the Boeing C-17 running on 50% JP-8, 25% Hydro-treated Renewable Jet fuel and 25% of a Fischer–Tropsch fuel with successful results.
For NASA's N+3 future airliner program, Boeing has determined that hybrid electric engine technology is by far the best choice for its subsonic design. Hybrid electric propulsion has the potential to shorten takeoff distance and reduce noise. Boeing created a team to study electric propulsion in future generation of subsonic commercial aircraft. SUGAR for Subsonic Ultra Green Aircraft Research includes, BR&T, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, General Electric, and Georgia Tech. There are five main concepts of the team is reviewing. SUGAR Free and Refined SUGAR, are two concepts based on conventional aircraft similar to the 737. SUGAR High and SUGAR Volt, are both high span, strut-based wing concepts. The final concept is SUGAR Ray, which is a wing body hybrid. The SUGAR Volt concept has resulted in a drop in fuel burn of more than 70 percent and a reduction of total energy use by 55 percent. This reduction is the result of adding an electric battery gas turbine hybrid propulsion system.
Political contributions, federal contracts, advocacy
In 2008 and 2009, Boeing was second on the list of Top 100 US Federal Contractors, with contracts totaling US$22 billion and US$23 billion respectively. Since 1995, the company has agreed to pay US$1.6 billion to settle 39 instances of misconduct, including US$615 million in 2006 in relation to illegal hiring of government officials and improper use of proprietary information.
Boeing secured the highest ever tax breaks at the state level in 2013.
Boeing's spent US$16.9 million on lobbying expenditures in 2009. In the 2008 presidential election, Barack Obama "was by far the biggest recipient of campaign contributions from Boeing employees and executives, hauling in US$197,000 – five times as much as John McCain, and more than the top eight Republicans combined".
The company is a member of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, a Washington D.C.-based coalition of more than 400 major companies and NGOs that advocate a larger International Affairs Budget, which funds American diplomatic and development efforts abroad. A series of U.S. diplomatic cables show how U.S. diplomats and senior politicians intervene on behalf of Boeing to help boost the company's sales.
In 2007 and 2008, the company benefited from over US$10 billion of long-term loan guarantees, helping finance the purchase of their commercial aircraft in countries including Brazil, Canada, Ireland, and the United Arab Emirates, from the Export-Import Bank of the United States, some 65% of the total loan guarantees the bank made in the period.
In December 2011, the non-partisan organization Public Campaign criticized Boeing for spending US$52.29 million on lobbying and not paying taxes during 2008–2010, instead getting US$178 million in tax rebates, despite making a profit of US$9.7 billion, laying off 14,862 workers since 2008, and increasing executive pay by 31% to US$41.9 million in 2010 for its top five executives.
The firm has also been criticized for supplying and profiting from wars, including the war in Yemen where its missiles were found to be used for indiscriminate attacks, killing many civilians.
Boeing has been accused of unethical practices (in violation of the Procurement Integrity Act) while attempting to submit a revised bid to NASA for lunar landing project.
For the fiscal year 2017, Boeing reported earnings of US$8.191billion, with an annual revenue of US$93.392billion, a 1.25% decline over the previous fiscal cycle. Boeing's shares traded at over $209 per share, and its market capitalization was valued at over US$206.6billion.
Between 2010 and 2018, Boeing increased its operating cash flow from $3 to $15.3billion, sustaining its share price, by negotiating advance payments from customers and delaying payments to its suppliers. This strategy is sustainable only as long as orders are good and delivery rates are increasing.
From 2013 to 2019, Boeing spent over $60 billion on dividends and stock buybacks, twice as much as the development costs of the 787.
Approximately 1.5% of Boeing employees are in the Technical Fellowship program, a program through which Boeing's top engineers and scientists set technical direction for the company. The average salary at Boeing is $76,784, reported by former employees.
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