Boeing’s “pre-MAX” crisis history

On April 7, a Boeing 757 cargo plane operated by Germany’s DHL international logistics company made an emergency landing in Central America due to a hydraulic system failure. The plane skidded off the runway, losing its tail and damaging its wing. And on March 31, a Boeing 757 passenger plane of Delta Airlines in the United States, just happened in the flight cockpit “front windshield broken” incident.
Boeing has had a rough couple of years in the civil aviation business. On March 21, 132 people were killed when China Eastern Airlines flight MU5735 crashed. The Boeing 737-800 aircraft is the best-selling of Boeing’s 737 family and has the best safety record. Rob Spingarn, managing director of Melius Research, a financial analysis firm, pointed out that Boeing is facing a new crisis after suffering from the 737 MAX incident in recent years.
So, before the MAX crisis and Boeing 737 crisis, Boeing, founded on July 15, 1916, has a history of 106 years, known as “the American aircraft manufacturing industry is not dead bird”, and what “old crisis”?
I’ve been stood up twice by a designer

William Boeing, the founder of the Boeing Company, was originally a timber merchant who built ships as a hobby.
At the age of 28, he became obsessed with airplanes the first time he saw them during the 1909 Alaska-Yukon Pacific Exposition and became madly involved in early flying. In 1916, he used his relationship with U.S. Navy Officer George Conrad Westerveld to sell Boeing’s first airplane, the B&W seaplane, later known as the Boeing 1. The two men used the contract they won from the military to form The Boeing Company, Pacific Aviation Supplies.
However, the ambitious plans suffered a setback from the start: the largest aircraft manufacturing company is aviation pioneer Glenn curtiss founded and operated Curtis company, although the “birthday” with Boeing 1916 (Curtis company was founded in January), but Curtis has many important aviation patent at the time. After the establishment of Pacific Aviation Equipment Company, was unexpectedly “stood up” by aircraft designers.
Westerveld had to rely on personal relations, pull to have been in Kotis, general aircraft manufacturing factory internship, aircraft manufacturing class of Chinese students Wang Help. The latter lived up to expectations and helped Boeing develop a fully functional B&W-C seaplane that Westerveld helped win 50 orders from the U.S. Navy.
This is a “super large order” at that time can be called “astronomical”, so that Boeing is not called “Boeing” won the first bucket of gold in the aircraft manufacturing industry, survived the beginning of the venture Curtis and GENERAL “left and right attack”.
But it didn’t last: Westerveld’s “outside work” was quickly detected by the military and severely admonished, and he was soon rushed to Europe, where world War I was taking place, and forced to give up all his shares in the company. Boeing changed its name to “Boeing Company” and appointed Wang Zhu as Boeing’s first chief aeronautical engineer to tide over the difficulties.
However, a few months later, the naval Aircraft Engineering Department of fujian Mawei Naval Shipyard was in urgent need of talents and issued a passionate call to a group of Chinese americans. Ba Yuzao, one of the pioneers of Chinese aircraft manufacturing and a good friend of Wang’s, took the lead in responding and pulled Wang back.
Two points as a horsetail, deputy director of the naval aircraft engineer is, hand in hand to create a popular saying in the early period of China’s water aircraft industry – the return of the king, let Boeing has organized into another major crisis, had to temporarily exit the aircraft manufacturing, until after the first world war in 1919, only with the international mail transport new business back on their feet.
Gluttony leads to a new crisis

Air mail transportation is a brand new business with high profit and high risk. For a time many small and medium-sized enterprises have flooded in, bringing great chaos. Herbert Hoover, then secretary of Commerce and later president, ordered Walter Brown, then postmaster General, and William McCracken, his deputy, to “fix things.” The latter enacted a series of measures designed to support big businesses and discourage small ones.
The well-connected, deep-pocded Boeing immediately embarked on a dizzying series of acquisitions, teaming up with Frederic Rentschell, who later founded Pratt& Whitney, to eat up small and medium-sized companies in a very short time. Set up a collection of aircraft manufacturing, air mail transport, flight operations in a giant – United Airlines.
Wang’s return to China, however, plunged Boeing into another major crisis since its founding, forcing it to temporarily withdraw from military aircraft manufacturing until 1919, after World War I, with a new business of international mail transport to recover.

On April 29, 1930 in hoover, brown and McCracken, driven by the aviation postal law came into effect, giving the postmaster greater power, and formulate the “according to the volume of mail valuation” this is good for big business, because their plane is larger), the rules of the game, and capital in a later dubbed “spoils” conference, Give a few large companies with close ties to them long-term monopolies in the air mail and air passenger markets.
Assists to “god”, and “someone took a” Boeing and its “united”, once almost authorized to become American’s postal exclusive operator of the market, eventually became the only one of three American aviation postal business monopoly company (the other two later evolved into global airlines, American airlines), is the first three at home.
This kind of leisurely “eating alone” made the civil aviation industry become the only economic sector with substantial profits in the United States during the “Great Depression”, but also hidden huge crises and scandals.
It was not long before it became clear that government regulators had deliberately awarded contracts in tenders to companies such as United Airlines, which had close ties to the company but had offered much higher prices, prompting a congressional investigation by Senator Hugo Black. Finally, under the pressure of public opinion, the Roosevelt administration abolished all commercial air mail contracts in February 1934, and turned to the Army Air Corps to carry out air mail transport tasks.
However, the Army Air Corps was simply not fit for the task, with 66 accidents in just 78 days, the loss of 13 pilots and a pitiful 65.8 percent flight completion rate. This forced President Roosevelt, Black and others to scrap the “free mail” policy on land flights and re-entrust airmail to the commercial market. The black-McKellar Bill was passed in June 1934. Provision is made to break up the operations of large companies to avoid corruption and unfair competition caused by excessive monopolies.
Boeing and its united Airlines subsidiary were the biggest losers in this series of reversals, split into three:

Manufacturing operations east of the Mississippi were split into Rentschell’s United Aircraft Corporation, which later became United Technologies, and spun off pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky, Walter, Hamilton Standard propellers and other brands that would become famous in American manufacturing. Manufacturing operations west of the Mississippi became a shrunken Boeing (and was soon spun off into what would become northrop, an equally old firm); Civil aviation and airmail were spun off into United Airlines.

A Boeing B-17 bomber flies near New Guinea in 1944

This series of the company being split big names, enough to show that the “crisis” Boeing how serious blow to Boeing is: through this ordeal, once became the American manufacturing superpower Boeing fell off a cliff, missed the big development before the second world war the United States civil aviation (Douglas aircraft, one of the “he” the predecessor company become a big winner).
On the military side, Boeing produced two outstanding heavy bombers, the B-17 and B-29, which sustained the company’s survival and development, and ensured that Boeing survived the super crisis that almost destroyed the company’s lifeblood.
Boeing 707’s “curve”

After the end of World War II, orders for U.S. military aircraft plummeted, and it was no longer possible to live off bomber orders. Boeing was eager to return to the commercial airliner market, and it launched the Boeing 377. But this kind of propeller passenger aircraft with a strong “military to civilian” color, in the industry experience, deep accumulation of Douglas and Lockheed aircraft, just like an insignificant Cinderella, only a pitiful 46 orders, to 1949 new orders have been “zero”.
Manufacturing operations west of the Mississippi became a shrunken Boeing (and was soon spun off into what would become northrop, an equally old firm); Civil aviation and airmail were spun off into United Airlines.

Boeing has had to go back to its familiar military route, winning orders for 800 more KC-97 tankers through its relationship with the Air Force. The KC-97 is essentially a modified VERSION of the B-29 “Super Fortress” bomber, not technically difficult, but enough to help Boeing survive its financial crisis and gain valuable market cushion time.
Early 50 s, keenly aware of, Boeing aircraft already in full swing in the field of “jet wave” is sweeping civil aviation field, and the direction of the profit of this field will be the first is the big transatlantic airliner, rather than at the time the national civil aviation aircraft manufacturing large “cluster” to enter, seemingly short small jets on less risky, because the more the farther the distance, capacity, Flying is more profitable.
But jumbo jets are a new field with huge investment costs and staggering risks, and experienced manufacturers around the world are holding back largely because they can’t afford to take the risk, and Boeing is no exception.
Boeing is once again adept at shifting the cost of risk to the military at critical moments: first, by convincing the Air Force to approve the purchase of a large special-purpose jet tanker to replace the many smaller tankers converted from bombers; In the second step, kC-135 jet tanker was designed according to the standard of large jet airliner. In 1954, it won the bid and produced 803 jets in total.
More important is the third step, which is to persuade the U.S. Air Force to apply for the C-135, an air force jet derived from the KC-135. Although the jet, which the Air Force did not really need at the time (airports were poorly adapted and heavy equipment was difficult to transport), was delayed and only 60 were deployed, it was the Boeing 707 that, with military funding, made it through the most commercially risky incubation phase.

1957 The Boeing 707 made its first successful test flight

Under the “cover” of THE KC-135/C-135, Boeing placed high hopes on the Boeing 367-80, which was quietly bred in 1952 and renamed as the Boeing 720, and eventually became the “7X7” series ancestor — Boeing 707.
In December 1957, the Boeing 707 successfully flew for the first time. In September of the following year, it received FAA certification and was delivered to Pan American Airlines, ushering in the “Boeing era” of civil aviation. Recognized as the first successful jetliner to truly pioneer the “history of the commercial jet,” the Boeing 707 was in production until 1978, with a total of 865 aircraft, helping Boeing survive the early crisis of the “jet age.”
“727 Crisis” and “Three Kingdoms War”

Early jumbo jets were four-engined (with four engines), expensive to run and uneconomical when oil prices were high. Boeing saw an opportunity in the 1960s and launched the 727 with just three engines.
Recognized as the first successful jetliner to truly pioneer the “history of the commercial jet,” the Boeing 707 was in production until 1978, with a total of 865 aircraft, helping Boeing survive the early crisis of the “jet age.”

This aircraft has comparable to four large aircraft match capacity and range, with the French “sail” small aircraft pioneering “tail hanging” layout, not only more fuel-efficient, and return when the launch “safer” (three engine were placed in the tail, so-called “arbitrary two parking will not out of danger,”), “more comfortable” (most of engine from the cabin seat, Hence the low noise and vibration) and “landing at more airports”, and orders began pouring in.
But it didn’t last: in just four months in late 1965 and early 1966, four brand-new Boeing 727s crashed, three of them landing at airports in the United States, and two within three days of each other (both in November 1965).
For a time, the public opinion is angry, the major media have to “deadly 727” call it, many travel agencies and airlines Boeing 727 flight was carried out by passengers refund, suspension pressure is increasing. What’s more, aviation regulators have been unable to find the cause of the crash.
At the critical moment, Boeing quickly launched the crisis assessment mechanism, and concluded that “as long as the public believes that the accident is not the fault of the aircraft design” and “the public always forgets”, it focused on “dealing with” the regulatory authorities. Under Boeing’s aegis, the FAA issued a statement the day after the third crash, saying “the three incidents are unrelated” and “there is no need to ground the Boeing 727.”
Forced by social pressure, the United States established the National Transportation Safety Board and established a joint investigation team with the Civil Aviation Commission to investigate the safety problems of Boeing 727. However, this new organization and the joint investigation team were also “fixed” by Boeing, and finally came to the conclusion that “the responsibility is on the crew”, allowing Boeing 727 to pass the danger.

As Boeing’s pr department had predicted, the market and the public soon forgot about the “deadly 727”. Far from plunging Boeing into a deeper crisis, the 727 killed off its most direct market rival, the Douglas DC-9.
Boeing’s other big crisis, then appeared in the star aircraft – Boeing 747.
This time Boeing lost the traditional lifeline: the Air Force contract. It was supposed to repeat the Boeing 707 model by bidding for a new generation of American jumbo jet transport aircraft, the birth of the next generation of mainstream jumbo jets. But this time the rival was well prepared: the mighty Lockheed, with its design for the giant C-5 transport plane, blew Boeing’s proposal to pieces.
In April 1966, on its 50th birthday, Boeing persuaded Juan Tripp, the adventurous Pan Am boss, to announce a $525m order for the 747, a new generation of giant four-engined jetliners that was still on the drawing boards.
At that time, the biggest hot spot in civil aviation was not large transoceanic aircraft, but supersonic aircraft. Boeing-pan Am is taking a big gamble. Some civil aviation industry experts call it “a dream of heaven, a dream of hell”, do well in the “family eat”, or ruin.
However, as the Boeing – Pan Am start “to start the order model” (airlines get an order, before the plane has not first flight and manufacturers skin in the game, at the same time enjoy more favorable price than competitors discount) become clear, the large civil aircraft of the other two giant Douglas, lockheed sit still, on competition, Dc-10 and L-1011 Samsung, which compete with Boeing 747, were presented.
As the oil crisis broke out in 1973, the “supersonic route” was a flash in the pan, and the “bet on the treasure” of Boeing, Douglas, Lockheed, the three giants were considered to be “narrow market, only two can survive at most”.
Boeing 747 chose a prudent and conservative route in the “three Kingdoms War” : it looks “unflattering” but inherits the layout of four-hair tail crane from the mature model Boeing 707; “Start order mode”, which seems to be “losing” but actually ensures the start of orders and distributes risks; Not eager to develop new customers and focus on digging traditional customers marketing strategy.
As a result, Boeing’s gamble won again: the l-1011 Samsung was involved in power and money deals in Japan, which led to the resignation of then-Japanese Prime Minister Kakueii Tanaka and the withdrawal of powerful Lockheed from the field of civil aircraft manufacturing. Douglas, the former civil-aircraft juggernaut, was dragged to its last stop by McDonnell and then Boeing.
The KC-46 is a “bear child.”

As mentioned earlier, Boeing has survived two crises in its history with the Air Force’s tanker contract, but its last big crisis, before the MAX crisis, almost ended with the tanker as the traditional lifeline.
In 2001, the U.S. Air Force announced an order for 100 KC-767 tankers based on the Boeing 767 aircraft, replacing the same number of KC-135s. But it was quickly pointed out that the contract lacked transparency in bidding and had been “backhanded” to Boeing before any of its competitors had had time to participate.
An army procurement director was arrested and the KC-767 was stillborn. But Boeing, again, survived through mysterious maneuvers.
In this context, military tanker procurement had to go public bidding process. This time, Northrop, which has the same roots as Boeing, won the military’s bid in 2006 by launching the A330 MRTT, which is a refueling and transport vehicle based on the Airbus A330.
As the oil crisis broke out in 1973, the “supersonic route” was a flash in the pan, and the “bet on the treasure” of Boeing, Douglas, Lockheed, the three giants were considered to be “narrow market, only two can survive at most”.

Critical moment, Boeing again start “tongtian hand, incredibly successful decided to overthrow the military through public bidding program implementation, to” the machine “” airbus has a problem,” the similar is not reason, forcing the military announced in 2009 to bidding – still only “second”, Boeing will slightly modify the KC – 767, Bidding under a new name, the KC-46A, and promising to “bear the cost of any excess”, was turned around.
The KC-46A, however, was a complete failure: the first 18 were due to be delivered in March 2018, but the first flight was six months late and eventually 14 months late; The promise of “cheaper” turned out to be a fishing project that exceeded $3.4 billion in costs. “Quality and quantity” was rejected by the Air Force several times due to quality problems. However, it was reluctantly accepted by the Air Force because its safety was not guaranteed, so it had to order “refueling only, not carrying passengers and goods”, and “multi-purpose capability like Airbus”, which was one of the biggest “selling points” of Boeing during the second bidding.
Despite The fact that Boeing managed to pull through The crisis, The Aerospace Forum noted that The KC-46A was in serious jeopardy because “The cost, schedule, production, and engineering elements of Boeing’s failed bet on The aircraft were out of balance.”
Boeing’s knack for surviving a string of crises

As many analysts have pointed out, the key to Boeing’s ability to avoid all kinds of crises is “having people in the office” and “being good at borrowing”.
Unlike many aircraft companies founded by aviation pioneers and hobbyists, Boeing received special favors from its founders from the very beginning due to their connections with the military and the upper echelons. Since then, it has successfully grown and prospered by benefiting from “people in China”. “People in the sun” has also helped Boeing survive crisis after crisis-the same one that might have doomed its rivals.
Boeing has been hit by setbacks, crises and the need to take a gamble, and it has often been able to turn a crisis into an opportunity by spreading the risk. The “borrowing” includes not only military orders and regulatory support, but also the mutual interest of various business partners.
But a series of maneuvers with the help of “people” and external forces has made Boeing more and more confident, more and more eager to “means” and “means” rather than actual “internal work” to get everything done. It was under this green light that all the hidden dangers snowballed and eventually erupted in the Boeing 737 MAX scandal.
As Natasha Frost pointed out in a professional essay on QUARTZ on January 3, 2020, Boeing became increasingly emboldened by its ability to avoid crises with ease, “ultimately setting the stage for the 737 MAX crisis”.