Boeing is an aviation icon that has dominated the industry for over a century. Boeing’s history book begins in 1916 when a timber businessman decided to turn his passion for flying and engineering into reality. Since then, the Boeing Airplane Company has become a pillar of the aviation industry. It even helped NASA conquer space in the late 20th century with the construction of the International Space Station but became mired in scandal due to plane problems that led to deaths in 2019.

Our experts at Business2Community have gathered all the key dates, mergers, milestones, and product launches in the history of Boeing. Whether you’re trying to study its business performance or simply in awe with this fascinating story, here is everything you need to know about Boeing.

A History of Boeing – Key Dates

  • William Boeing founded Pacific Aero Products Company, which later became the Boeing Company, in 1916.
  • In 1970, the world-famed Boeing 747 took its first flight from New York to London, carrying 355 passengers.
  • Boeing bought its major rival, the McDonnell Douglas Company, for $14 billion in 1997.
  • In 2018, Boeing made history for making $100 billion in sales, the first time the company reached this level of sales volume.
  • Due to the 737 Max scandal, by 2022 the cumulative cash loss reached $34 billion.

Who Owns Boeing?

The Boeing Company is a publicly traded company and part of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Its shares are owned by a mix of institutional and individual shareholders. Around 46.46% of shares are owned by institutional shareholders and 52.71% are owned by public companies and individual shareholders.

The largest Boeing investor is Vanguard Group Inc., accounting for 43 million shares valued at $8.9 billion, which makes up for around 7% of total shares.

Boeing was first listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1962, selling at $0.82 per share.

In March 2020, during the peak of COVID-19, Boeing announced a temporary pause on its quarterly dividend until further notice. The last dividend paid was in February 2020 at $2.06 per share with a dividend yield of 2.5%.

These charts show a history of Boeing’s stock prices, dividend paid, and dividend yield:

boeing stock dividend and yield

As of early 2024, the aviation industry giant had not updated about any plans to restore its dividend.

Who is the Boeing CEO?

As of April 2024, David Calhoun serves as the CEO of Boeing. He was appointed in January 2020.

Up to 2019, the Boeing CEO also served as the Chairman of the company. In October 2019, the Boeing Company announced the separation of the CEO and Chairman roles.

Over its century-long operations, Boeing has had 13 CEOs. The first to serve as the CEO was its founder, William Boeing, from 1916 to 1933.

William Boeing

Here is a list of all the Boeing CEOs over the years:

Chief Executive Officer Period
 William Boeing 1916–1933
Edgar Gott 1933-1934
Clairmont Egtvedt 1934-1938
Philip Johnson 1938-1945
 William M. Allen 1945-1968
 Thornton Wilson 1968-1969
 Malcolm Stamper 1970-1975
 Frank Shrontz 1986-1996
 Philip Condit 1996-2003
 Harry Stonecipher 2003-2005
 James McNerney 2005-2015
Dennis Muilenburg 2015-2019
Dave Calhoun 2020-Present

Growth and Development of Boeing

With over 10,000 commercial aircraft in service and nearly 6,000 jet aircraft on order, the Boeing Company currently employs around 60,000 people globally. Boeing commercial and military aircraft are world-famous and have transformed the aerospace and defense industry.

Below, we’ve organized the history of Boeing. From its growth and expansions to sandals, we will see how Boeing has shaped aviation history and the air travel world.

1910s – 1918: William Boeing Establishes the Boeing Airplane Company During the First World War

Born in 1881, William Boeing was a timber businessman when he developed a passion for air transport after attending the first Los Angeles International Air Meet in 1910. His dreams of engineering and flying in the sky would soon revolutionize the aviation world.

William Boeing founded Boeing in 1916 in Seattle, Washington. Back then, the company was called the Pacific Aero Products Company and Boeing incorporated 998 out of the 1,000 shares issued from the company.

When Boeing first founded the Pacific Aero Products Company, it was during the peak of WW1. At that time, there was an imminent danger on US soil. The country would soon join the world war, leading to a surge in demand for military aircraft.

Before the First World War, there were only 16 aircraft makers in the US, creating opportunities for Boeing’s new venture.

In 1917, Boeing shipped two new Model Cs to the Navy in Pensacola, Florida. The Navy was impressed with the Boeing airplane quality and ordered 50 of them. In that same year, the company was renamed Boeing Airplane Company, taking the name from its founder.

On June 29, 1918, Boeing received a $116,000 order from the US Navy for 50 HS-2Ls. What could have been a highly profitable deal soon went south as the conflict ended on November 11 of that same year. Immediately after the end of the war, the Navy cut the order by half, forcing Boeing to look for other revenue streams.

1919 – 1939: The Dawn of Boeing’s Commercial Aircraft Era

With the fall in demand for military aircraft and the surge in unused fighter jets, the commercial aircraft market became flooded with cheap planes in the late 1910s to early 1920s. To stay afloat in the business, the Boeing Airplane Company developed marine craft, furniture, and airmail delivery services in addition to its aircraft production.

Boeing flew its Model C-700, the last of its series, to deliver letters from Vancouver, Canada, to Seattle, Washington, in 1919. The first Boeing-built commercial aircraft, the B-1 Model 6, also successfully took its first flight the same year. The success paved the way for Boeing to dominate the airmail industry within a few years’ time.

In 1927, Boeing built the Boeing Model 40A and won the US Post Office contract, becoming the first airmail flight provider in the nation to deliver mail in San Francisco, California, and Chicago. A new airline, Boeing Air Transport, was formed for this mission. In its first year alone, it carried nearly 2,000 airline customers and delivered over 800,000 pounds of mail.

During the late 1920s, the Great Depression, and economic uncertainties wiped out many businesses in the country. However, Boeing remained strong and even expanded its operations, becoming one of the big winners during the economic turmoil.

Boeing founded the United Aircraft and Transport Corporation in 1929, uniting several other aircraft makers and airlines in the North American aviation sector to provide services to the region.

In 1931, Boeing Air Transport partnered with several aircraft makers, including National Air Transport, Varney Airlines, and Pacific Air Transport to form United Airlines. To this day, United Airlines continues to serve as one of the biggest commercial airlines in the US.

After United Airlines was formed, it gained contracts to distribute the nation’s airmails together with Trans World Airlines and American Airlines. All of these companies were formed in recent times through mergers and acquisitions of smaller companies.

The unstoppable expansion of Boeing eventually raised political concerns from the then-US president, Franklin Roosevelt, who deemed the success of the United Aircraft and Transport Corporation anti-competitive and monopolistic.

Subsequently, all airmail contracts were canceled in February 1934. President Roosevelt ordered the Army Air Corps to carry out the airmail delivery instead. In September of that year, the United Aircraft and Transport Corporation was forced to dissolve due to its violation of the anti-trust laws. Following its dissolution, William Boeing stepped down as the Board Chairman.

In 1938, Boeing built the 307 model, the world’s first airliner with a pressurized cabin. The celebrated milestone set the foundation for future commercial aircraft development.

307 model

1939 – 1945: Boeing Builds the Iconic B-17 Flying Fortress During World War II

During World War II, Boeing became a powerhouse for growth and alliance in the aviation industry. When the war began, despite being rivals, Boeing took the initiative to form an industry team with other key players like Douglas Aircraft Company, McDonnell Aircraft, and North American Aviation to produce more jet fighters for the Air Force, formerly known as the Army Air Corps.

Out of the 13,000 B-17 Flying Fortress produced during the war, Boeing produced 7,000 of them, showcasing its leadership in the defense unit.

To meet the growing demand from the Air Force, Boeing increased production by recruiting women whose husbands were fighting the war. As such, Boeing was able to scale up its output level from 60 planes a month in 1942 to 350 planes a month in 1944.

WW2 was a remarkable feat for the Boeing Company as the country and the world witnessed the power of its aircraft. Aside from the world-famed B-17 Flying Fortress, the Boeing B-29 Superfortress also made its name for carrying the atomic bombs that were used in Japan in 1945.

flying fortress

1945 – 1970: Boeing Transforms the Aviation Industry with the Iconic 747 Series

A similar fate struck Boeing after WW2 as the previous conflict. Immediately after the war, Boeing lost the majority of its military aircraft contracts. As a result, 70,000 employees were let go from the Boeing Company. To recuperate from this immense financial toll, Boeing began developing modern passenger planes to supplement its military aircraft production.

The C-97 model, Boeing’s first commercial aircraft after the war in 1947, was a major success. To secure its position as the aviation industry giant, Boeing invested $16 million into the development of the 367-80, also known as the Dash 80, in 1952.

The huge investment was a gamble for the company at the time. Fortunately for Boeing, the gamble paid off. The 367-80’s first flight in 1954 was successful. The Air Force named the model KC-135A and ordered 732 planes from Boeing. Developing upon experience from the 367-80 model, Boeing created the model 707-120, the first commercial jet aircraft for the company. Favored by Pan-Am, the company ordered 20 of the 707-120 model after it took its first flight in 1957.

It was during this period when Boeing began the development of its signature 747 jumbo jet series. Compared to its predecessor, the narrow-body Boeing 737 of 1967, the wide-body 747 commercial jet was able to carry a larger capacity at a lower cost.

On its first flight with Pan-Am in 1970, the Boeing 747 carried 335 passengers from New York to London.

747 jet

1990s: Boeing Joins the Race to Space and Constructs the International Space Station

In the following decades, Boeing worked to excel mechanically and strive to bring innovation to the industry. Its world-leading engineering skills were not only well-known in the aviation industry but also in the space exploration sector.

In 1993, Boeing was selected by NASA as the prime contractor for building the International Space Station. Being the prime contractor for a space exploration project of this magnitude signified Boeing’s dominance in the field.

The project comprised 15 countries around the world and would cost $150 billion initially to build and $3 billion in annual maintenance fees. To this day, the International Space Station remains an integral part of exploring the beyond for mankind.

international space station

In 1996, Boeing acquired the aerospace and defense units of Rockwell, a global tech manufacturer, for $3 billion. Later, in 1997, Boeing bought the McDonnell Douglas Company for $14 billion. Each shareholder of McDonell Douglas would receive 1.3 shares of the Boeing stock.

For the better half of the century, the Douglas Aircraft Company had been a major competitor of Boeing. Founded by McDonnell Douglas in 1921, the Douglas Company, later renamed the Douglas Aircraft Company and merged with the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation in 1967, was another key player in the aviation industry, producing commercial and military aircraft.

Its DC (Douglas Commercial) series was the most well-known aircraft to the public from the company.

Starting from the mid-1960s, the commercial service sector of the McDonnell Douglas Company began to experience a downfall due to poor investment decisions and the fierce competition from Boeing, which eventually facilitated the acquisition.

Right after the merger, the Boeing stock price rose from $96.75 to $113.87.

The second half of the 20th century was Boeing’s fast-development era. Its commercial aircraft was a huge financial success and the Boeing airplane models were widely recognized and purchased by companies and wealthy individuals around the world.

2000s: Boeing Continues to Conquer the Aerospace Sector

As technology advanced, the 2000s opened up a new chapter in space exploration. As a leading figure in the aerospace industry, Boeing began acquiring more powerful rocket and satellite companies.

To scale up its participation in the race to space exploration, Boeing acquired a satellite system from Hughes Electronics for $3.75 billion in cash in 2000.

In 2006, Boeing formed a joint venture called United Launch Alliance (ULA) with Lockheed Martin as the US launch service provider. Headquartered in Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a leading aerospace, defense, and security firm.

From 2006 to 2024, the joint venture had over 155 consecutive launches with a 100% success rate, placing satellites valued at around $70 billion into orbit and making it the most experienced launch service provider in the US.

rockets

2018 – 2020: Boeing Faces Major Scandals with the 737 Max Crashes

In 2018, due to the increasing need for commercial airplanes and private jets, Boeing made history with a sales volume of $100 billion, the first time the Boeing Company reached this profit level since its establishment in 1916.

Boeing even expected sales to grow to around $110 billion in 2019. However, this forecast would soon be proven to be overly optimistic as the Boeing 737 Max public scandal began to unfold the same year, which led to global groundings of one of its best-selling jets and billions of dollars lost.

Following two fatal crashes involving the Boeing 737 Max, namely the Lion Air Flight 610 in October 2018 and the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in March 2019, a safety fault in the MCAS, which was a flight stabilizing feature in the Boeing jets, was revealed. Boeing was accused of deliberately withholding key information about the MCAS and misleading pilots. This quickly brewed to become one of the most infamous scandals in aviation history.

In March 2019, right after the second crash, regulators around the world grounded the Boeing 737 Max for passengers’ safety. Four days later, Boeing’s stock prices dropped by a stark 11%. Boeing shares continued to go down by 18% within a week, wiping out more than $40 billion in market value.

In the wake of the scandals, institutions like the Bank of America and Barclays downgraded the company stock and Fitch Ratings and Moody’s lowered the rating for the Boeing Company from “stable” to “negative”.

By the end of that same year, Boeing shares had dropped by 23%, valuing the company at around $55 billion.

2019 was the first time since 1997 that Boeing reported a net loss. With the production halt of the 737 Max and order cancellations and stock crashes, the Boeing Company reported a net loss of nearly $640 million that year. Its 737 orders also went down from 837 in 2018 to only 69 in 2019.

Boeing 737 orders

In December 2019, the then-Boeing CEO, Dennis Muilenburg, was replaced by Dave Calhoun, amid the reputation crisis due to his unempathetic responses to disaster and inability to restore confidence in stakeholders.

By early 2020, the two crashes had already cost Boeing roughly $18 billion in compensation to its customers due to the 737 Max groundings.

Following the crisis, to recuperate from the losses, Boeing updated the MCAS, improved other software programs, tightened the validation process, offered more training to pilots, and conducted more frequent regulatory reviews to ensure security and prevent the same disaster from happening again.

Unfortunately for Boeing, the challenges would continue as the global pandemic COVID-19 put air travel to a near full stop at the beginning of 2020.

2020: COVID-19 Puts Boeing Development to a Halt

2020 was the turning point for the air travel industry with COVID-19 rampaging through the world. Countries began to close borders and banned flights at the beginning of the year. The pandemic stunned the air travel commercial service sector with a reported 60% loss in passenger volume by the end of 2020 from its pre-pandemic level.

In March 2020, Boeing announced that it would pause its dividend payout until further notice. As of early 2024, no update had been given about the return of its dividends.

The pandemic coupled with the lingering effects of the 737 Max scandal left Boeing with a net loss of nearly $12 billion in 2020, the biggest loss it had suffered since the company was founded.

2021 – Present: Boeing Continues to Innovate and Recover From Financial Losses

By 2022, the cumulative cash loss due to the Max 737 disasters already reached $34 billion. Furthermore, the pandemic put Boeing’s development into a complete standstill. Boeing’s Vice President of Commercial Marketing, Darren Hulst, once said that Boeing lost almost two years of growth due to the production halt and the pandemic.

Despite the gigantic financial loss, Dave Calhoun, remained optimistic about Boeing’s future as the “demand for airplanes is as robust as I’ve ever seen it”.

Boeing has since suffered multiple controversies in 2024 after a cabin panel of a Boeing 737 Max blew out mid-flight. Boeing and the passengers were lucky that it happened early in the flight and that there was no one seated directly next to the faulty panel. Otherwise, the accident would have been much worse and could have turned fatal.

The jet-maker has also been accused by multiple whistleblowers that say that it pressures staff to churn out planes without full quality control and a myriad of other severe issues. In the most recent testimony, a whistleblower claimed that these issues extend to about 1,400 Boeing 777s and 787s, a massive portion of the company’s total deliveries of these aircraft.

To regain public confidence in its market value, Boeing continued to innovate the air transit systems by partnering with major cloud solution providers like AWS and Google Cloud to digitalize its production process and commit to green energy production. It is also working to increase its production rates to address the backlog, enhance safety and stability through software updates, provide more training and benefits to employees, etc.

How Much Does a Boeing 747 Cost?

Before its discontinuation, a Boeing 747-8 was selling for $418 million, making it one of the most expensive Boeing commercial airplanes. The Boeing 777-9 Model was the most expensive model so far, selling for $442 million in 2022.

Once the “Queen of the Skies”, the Boeing 747 jumbo jet model struggled to find a standing ground in recent years due to the fierce competition and the 737 Max scandal. In July 2020, Boeing officially announced the discontinuation of Boeing 747 with the final production taking place in 2022.

The last Boeing 747-8 jumbo jet was delivered to Atlas Air on January 3, 2023, ending the 5-decade-long legend of this first jet aircraft with twin aisles.

boeing prices

Over the years, Boeing has had 5 logos. The first Boeing logo was created in 1920. It featured an image of a bird and an arrow crossing out the company name “BOEING.” The logo was meant to represent the flight dynamic and freedom of being up in the air with a Boeing airplane.

A second logo replaced the first in the 1930s. This time, the Boeing logo resembled the Totem pole, a signature cultural symbol of Native Americans. Since Boeing began operations as a North American aviation company, the logo was thought to incorporate the cultural identity of Native Americans.

In the 1940s, a modern Boeing logo that resembled the current one was adopted. It simply featured the company name with a star replacing the dot on the “i”. Boeing further changed the font in the 1960s.

In 1997, following the merger with the McDonnell Douglas company, the Boeing logo incorporated the iconic McDonnell Douglas symbol on the right-hand side of the letters. This logo was designed by famed graphic designer Rick Eiber and has been in use ever since.

boeing logos

The Future of Boeing

Over the years, Boeing has faced many challenges and opportunities. Following the Boeing 737 Max scandal and COVID-19 in recent years, Boeing’s financials took a hard hit. Until 2024, the company is still suffering from a loss annually with an enormous backlog of $469 billion from more than 5,000 undelivered airplanes. Its worsening whistleblower crisis will likely continue to harm the company for some time.

Despite the financial difficulties, Boeing is optimistic about turning 90% of the backlog into revenue by 2027. In 2022, Boeing projected its production of aircraft would go up to 48,600 by 2042 from 24,500 jets in 2022 with a total market value of $8 trillion. Last year’s estimation was 43,470 by 2042, showcasing Boeing’s confidence in leading the aviation market once again.

As Boeing continues to bring groundbreaking innovation to the aviation market and space exploration, the company expects to regain public confidence and further enhance its market share in the field.

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