News Daily Spot: The Father of Boeing’s 747 Jumbo Jet, Joe Sutter, Dies at 95

more news

The Father of Boeing’s 747 Jumbo Jet, Joe Sutter, Dies at 95

Joe Sutter, the Boeing Co. engineer who ushered in the modern era of long-range travel by spearheading the 747 jumbo jet in the 1960s, has died. He was 95.

“Joe lived an amazing life and was an inspiration – not just to those of us at Boeing, but to the entire aerospace industry,” Ray Conner, chief executive officer of Boeing’s commercial airplane division, told employees in a message announcing the death Tuesday. “He personified the ingenuity and passion for excellence that made Boeing airplanes synonymous with quality the world over.”

The 747 was the capstone of a career spanning the twilight of piston-engine airliners to Boeing’s rivalry with Airbus Group four decades later. Starting with a swept-wing prototype in 1954 paving the way for the first U.S. jetliner, Sutter’s stamp was visible on aircraft through the 757 and 767 in the 1980s.

“He was a great engineer,” said Phil Condit, a former chief executive officer of Boeing who was once a member of Sutter’s 747 engineering group. “He dearly, dearly loved that airplane.”

Like the 747, Sutter was a throwback to a time when large, physical products defined U.S. innovation. With Boeing’s survival on the line, Sutter led a team that crafted the jet in less than two-and-a-half years even as he defied the design wishes of the first buyer: Juan Trippe, the Pan American World Airways founder who was then the most powerful person in aviation.

“The aircraft was iconic and so was he,” Richard Aboulafia, a Fairfax, Virginia-based aerospace analyst, said of Sutter. “It was a time of moonshots.”

Sutter retired in 1986 at age 65 as executive vice president in charge of Boeing’s commercial airplane engineering and product development. He served as a senior adviser emeritus for a quarter-century, regularly stopping by a Seattle-area office into his 90s.

click here