The history of Boeing and the future of passenger flight
The science show on our end where we say farewell to the giant of the sky's the 747 and meet Michael Body the Boeing historian, but this is how it all began. On the seventeenth of December nineteen, zero, three in North Carolina. I new era in aviation began thanks to the flight of the Wright brothers, followers of all the achievements of the German Lilienthal who they considered to be the best designer and flight pilot of motorists machines. They constructed by plane which they named Flyer. It was equipped with a twelve horsepower four cylinder engine to drive two propellers, which spun on opposing directions. The. Honor of carrying out the flight was given to Wilbur Wright. Who won the toss of a coin? They turned on the engine, and the machines started to move slowly gaining speed until it managed to stabilize and take off for a short journey. Wilbur! Wright's flights only reached forty meters and lasted twelve seconds. Throughout that day Wilbur and his brother Orville carried out several flights until they achieved the length of two hundred and fifty meters in fifty nine. So. Mike where we standing. We are in the red. Barn. This is the building where Bill Boeing started the Boeing Company back in Nineteen Sixteen Nineteen sixteen. Wow, yeah, it's well one hundred and four years on now, so we passed our centennary this beautiful building, this part of the Museum of Flight Wonderful Museum just a few miles out of Seattle right an ongoing field so very historic. This airport was named after bill boy that was in one, thousand, nine, hundred, twenty, seven, twenty eight, and put Seattle on the map. Who was he? Was the son of German immigrants, his father had come to America like many immigrants to make a life. He settled in Detroit where he had timber and mining, and did quite well, but at a young age for Bill Boeing. His father passed on and Bill went to school and studied at Yale and didn't get on with his stepfather very well and decided to make his. His own way, so he came out to Washington to Seattle to invest in timber something he knew about from his father, but Timberland here and became a very wealthy young man. He was a bit of a renaissance man to he loves science technology boats cars was very interested in business, and in nineteen ten at an air show in Los, Angeles. He saw his first airplane. And Immediately He was just captivated. It became an obsession. He wanted to get a ride on an airplane at this air show. For four days, I was just a huge event. Dirigibles and you think of these by planes. Barn stormers and one of them was a fellow by the name of prolong was a French aviator very famous at the time and Bill Boeing went Tim's. Had you know like to get? A ride was able to speak to in French, and he said Hey. Mr Boeing not today, not today. I gotTA do some other flights, but come back tomorrow. And I said this. This event went on for four days Mr. Bowen came back and came back and finally. That fourth day Mr Pallone wasn't there. He was gone. He had been sued by the Wright brothers, so he had fled. So Mr going never got his ride in. It actually took him another about five years to get an airplane ride. And when he finally bought an airplane from Glenn Martin, famous pioneer of US aviation took it out for a flight didn't think it was that good of an airplane. and his response with his friend Conrad Westervelt Officer. Who in aviation fellow enthusiasts? They decided they could build a better. The Flyer of the Wright brothers was made for an ash tree, would and some parts of iron. Its wings covered with Muslin Fabric and bound together by iron filaments. The steering was managed by balancing the body of the pilot from side to side. This airplane symbolized a huge change in the history of aviation, as it's designed, comprised the necessary aerodynamic characteristics for flight. From this point onwards, numerous technical developments and engineering feats followed. It was a watershed in the history of aviation. Here we are say this amazing Lee. Huge area like a big hole made a wonderful would, and there's a model brought across two models in fact, looking at lathes. And what are they manufacturing here? They obviously is right now. This building was actually part of a shipyard. They made boats in here. Gentleman by the name of Heath who was shift right and Mr. Boeing had hired him to build his yacht now Mr Heath was a wonderful shipbuilder, but an awful business person, and so Mr Boeing it to help to get the business going in his yacht built. Offered to help out Mr Heath with his debts, and in return he would get this building. At one point, there's a floor above US quite high. Maybe twenty feet, and that was open, so there would they would build the boats right in here so in Mr Boeing took it over when he started the company in Nineteen Sixteen, they added the upper floor where they made wings. Of course is all woodworking. Say That outside in the main part of the whole? He's just huge in this museum. You've got so many aircraft. You've got to walk about forty going right back to. To the beginning, fuckers whatever yeah, there's a replica of the Wright Flyer so yeah, and even before that was some of the early gliders they did. This museum was started actually my predecessor, the former historian at Boeing Ken. Bill Boeing. Junior Mister Boeing son got together to move this building so this where we're at right now. This building was actually several miles up. There's a river right here. The duwamish river in this used to sit there because like I said it was a shipyard. And so they moved it here and around it they built a museum, and this was done by Boeing employees and Boeing leaders. As a home for all of the wonderful achievements that Boeing employees have -CCOMPLISH over one hundred years now my last time I was here sector sitting at Boeing at one of the places where they manufacturer. Many planes and I was in the dreamliner and twenty years later, having sat there and looked at the innovations mainly of the cabin. Actually 'cause. That's where I sit next to a Muslim sit. Twenty years later. There's a plane flying. It takes that long to make new plane right. Airplanes are very complex, and the market is very complex work that goes into developing a new commercial airplane. It's quite incredible and one of the interesting things is if we look at one of the famous ones is the seven forty seven. And how that airplane came to be all the different ideas which should be a double decker? Still when I'm standing on the tarmac, and I'm looking up simple seven. That count fly its beak. Unbelievable and that it's absolutely what they said at the time when Boeing was building airplane, and even as it's rolling down the runway, there were people at that point like no, it's not gonNA. And so and that's one of the wonderful parts of our business that so much of our history is doing things that people think are impossible. Really, that's what I think defines Boeing best is that we do those things that other people think are either too hard or downright impossible, and that's what we do. Yeah, and was it the simple some the other day that broke the record going. Going transportation wasn't that. Yeah, that was wonderful. Yeah, it's amazing things you can do with a tailwind right and think it was two hundred miles an hour, and interestingly the seven forty seven is such a large airplane. It is actually the fastest of the commercial jet subsonic jet purposely built for speed with considerable sweep to the wings and such things that you'd see in a fighter, Jim. So it is very fast, the incredible thing is I was reading this the other day in the Scientific American? I think it was the February edition of Sunday. American the physicists still say there is no complete theory of how planes fly well, it's probably have to ask some of our arodynamicists. I know they're pretty sure. They know what they're doing, but. But they're you know that's the interesting thing about this business. As you know being somebody who's very interested in science that especially with technology, there's always unknowns, and that's what makes us interesting and challenging working in a technology business, and you see that throughout the history of aviation that those are known. Sometimes they bite you about overcoming those is been a big part of it, and I think we've done a pretty amazing. Amazing job of overcoming a Lotta that quick personal question before I. Ask you about the future, and that is due flying yourself apart from being a passenger while I have flown, saplings have been able to fly, because pretty bad eyesight, but I got that fixed recently, and that's the first thing my son said so you're gonNA. Go Out and get your pilot's license. I, said well. You know me very well, so. It's still a possibility. Nineteen ten was the year of aviation competitions on over the world together with great feats, such as those achieved by the Peruvian Chavis who flew over the Alps or the involvement of women in the challenges of Aviation Opin. Amazed by the Frenchwoman Raymonde Delaroche the first female in history to get a pilot license. This year the first attempts of developing jet propulsion started. Hall Recall Wanda built a jet engine which became the forerunner of the use of jets to create the power of thrust. Furthermore the first endeavors began to transport passengers by Zeppelin in Germany and by airplane in France. The Young William Boeing trying to make himself a name in Los Angeles, while the French pilot Paulhan performed flights for army officers invited by. Companies who tried to convince them of the great possibilities, airplanes had as a weapon of attack and defense. Well here we saw. Two Thousand Eight hundred three seventy corners. And virtually the hundredth anniversary of commercial flight, because I think that was around October, one, thousand, nine, hundred nineteen. And there are three main companies who have done that. They vie for the position of number one turn. Qantas's the long continuing one because k. l. m.. Stop during the Second World War, but anyway hundred years, and we know what happens. We've got these great big jets, and we all queue up and we sit there for a long time. How is it going to change in the future? Do you think what sort of imagination Boeing and elsewhere talking about why I think you've seen some of the changes recently? We've really focused on that passenger experience, and as you say, you've been in the dreamliner, the research that our team has done on what it is to sit in that seat for all those hours and receive sitting in that cabin I. It's just amazing. The result of that were the bigger windows and having the blue lights in the ceiling, giving them more of that feeling of openness, so there's some of the new technology and composite and other stronger structures have been able to put more atmosphere into the airplane. So you have a more comfortable flight, even getting some moisture in there. I don't feel so dry, so there's that focus on passenger experience now as far as getting to our destination quicker, which is probably the next important question, one of the other things that the. The dreamliner. Did I think unless you're really an aviation enthusiast? You might have missed this. One of the great benefits that airplane has given to the world is point to point travel with the one thing that I think that really is hard for a lot of travel. Is You fly to one airport and you're not done. You WanNa be done, but you're. You're still miles and miles from home. You have to get on another airplane and get to your destination, so the hub and spoke and the seven eight seven challenged that whole structure to the aviation industry that. With the economy, the efficiency of that airplane raval to fly directly to our destination anywhere in the world. So that was one of the other great advances. People might not even recognize that, but it's made flying a lot easier for many of us, but it can future when we talk about I think the question is speed, and we've looked at that in the past with the sonic cruiser that would fly near the speed of sound, mock one and get us to our destination, maybe fifteen twenty percent quicker back to the concord radio. That supersonic has always been that dream. That's just been on the edge. It's still really not economical. Still, burn too much fuel, and that's just physics so. Where we're looking in. Here's what you might see as well. We'll just skip a step. Go Past, supersonic run into hypersonic. So at five times, the speed of sound or faster along with these recent advances of traveling into orbit commercial space. I think we'll see. The next grade. Advance of air travel will be traveling at those speeds of flying out of the atmosphere coming back down from Australia you fly to anywhere in the world, and just a couple of hours rather than many many hours. As long as they. Get to the airport the other end. They don't make you go around. The other day when I go to Sydney. Okay, we were ahead of time and yes, traffic control, and so we did two circuits and I said to the steward I say. Could you just check with the captain? How much that cost? Any. At three to four grand, yeah, just for fifteen minutes going around well in wasted fuel well I. Think I've been on a couple of flights for. The plane taxied longer than it actually flew so. Those things happen, but I think what's amazing. You look at it and this is just thinking about. Tell you recently over the holidays here that millions and millions of people flew in here in the Northern Hemisphere Rain, wind, cold ice snow, the whole bit darkness, not a single problem. Millions and millions and thousands of flights are going in and everybody got to destinations no issues. That may I. say the cost in fuel because here we are. The fuel is becoming more and more expensive. The climate change problems more more obvious. And there are experiments being done looking at Electric Planes Ryan, and even Sola driven plans which have flown. Yeah, and I think that's another great point that we'll see in the future of Boeing has been working on this for decades, and we've really been a leader in addressing those issues you think back to to nineteen seventy th first day, and really this the start the consciousness of taking care of mother Earth since that time Boeing has been working on building our planes that are green, starting with the some five seven and the seven six seven with the high bypass engines, and being designed for efficiency for saving fuel, and we've continued that recently. We've were doing a lot of. Of pioneering work with new fuels, biofuels, and you've seen a lot of airlines testing those out, but we've done allowed that work we have a program called the ECO demonstrator. We take a one of our commercial airplanes and put all sorts of experiments in it that will help find new ways to make airplanes even more efficient, even more green, but I think. If you really look at it, you'll see that this is one industry. It's far ahead of any other in really taking on that challenge to make our products green. How many staff people in Seattle have you got working for Boeing? Let's see here in Seattle. What do we have about forty forty thousand people I believe. Counted recently. I lost count the other day. Seattle is the home for our commercial airplane organization, and it's historically the home for the Boeing Company we also have a considerable amount of people spread across the country, working in our defense and space sites in Saint Louis, and down the southeast of the country hunts signs the other day doing experiment right well, and this is one of the really fascinating areas that we're working on our legacy of Boeing you know. Know we're in the midst of the fiftieth anniversary of Apollo and we look back at Apollo, the Boeing and the companies that have joined us. Our heritage companies McDonnell Douglas. North American. That was the team that went to the moon. We all team together back in nineteen sixties built that Saturn Apollo spacecraft, and since then every spacecraft that's carried NASA astronauts, every US built spacecraft except for the Lunar Lander landed on. On the moon everything from the x fifteen to the International Space Station and the space shuttle are all part of Boeing heritage, so we really have the only legacy of that, and so we're continuing now with the star liner and opening up this whole new era for humanity of of space travel just the same way. The airlines started like say hundred years ago while we're seeing that again today with opening travel. Travel to orbit and I think you're going to see in the future. That's going to grow rather quickly. When do you think we will have an electric plane? We're working on that now and I think there was some news just the other day and we have a partnership with the team new. Zealand and aircraft called the Kora which is an vitale. One of these air taxi personal vehicle, so he tested that. So this is something that it's coming fast or not. It's coming fair and because there's a silent aircraft being worked on in Cambridge for. Twenty three years. Which you wait and you wait wait. Yeah, well. There's a lot of challenges to making electronic vehicles and I. Think Boeing did a hydrogen fuel cell. Test Airplane. Fifteen years ago when The technology's been there, but being able to scale up I. Think is the issue now. You're talking to his story about current technology. You might not get the best words on all that, but the general trends are with electron electric solar power. Those sorts of things that have been studied for a long time. The efficiencies getting better and I think at some point in the future you will see that's that's the direction. It's going, but I think you'll see it. I didn't some of these urban mobility personal vehicles the taxes that we see so many different companies working on now. Don't mind. I. Structure over. Four zero zero five. This is Boeing Tower. You're clear to make a straight in approach to runway one three. When South West to five, gusting three five extreme caution eighty to ninety degree right crosswind reported harbor or Five Ron John. How people doing with the very blockages, various sets that have happened in the last couple of years. Big Staff and aircraft on the ground, not taking off. How'd you deal with it well? Boeing has been around for one hundred years and we've seen a lot of adversity in this business where we do things like I said earlier. We do things that other people think are too hard to do or impossible. And we look back at our history and we've seen times. When after the First World War that Bill Boeing was faced with closing the company. There wasn't any business, and he actually kept going with the money from his own account. He kept his team here. He said you know if we make it through these years these upcoming one or two years. If we make it through, there'll be no turning back and he was right. And that really sets a tone for us. We saw in nineteen thirties. The depression at the end of World War Two. There was a downturn famously at the beginning of the nineteen seventies with the recession worldwide recession in cancellation of our S. T. and there was the famous sign will the last person to leave Seattle please turn out the lights, so we've seen adversity, and we've overcome it, and that's part of our DNA. Boeing. That's the culture here that we have that in our background at center blood so I think everybody here working hard and will. The company will continue. Finally here we are where we began in the Museum of. Flight, I don't know how many aircraft you've got hanging up there on the ground, the whole of history flight when young people come in when you get visitors, what do they look at and what excites some most one of the great things about flight I've always thought other than the creative power that goes into making great art and sculpture and music. There are I think the one thing beyond that that really work humanities. Creative spirit really shines in flight. And I think that it makes it easy for us that capture that imagination when you hear a plane fly over up and see it, and and there's just there's something primitive inside of us right that when ancient people looked up at birds, and said yeah, you know it. Chris and data loose and Greek astronomers, looking to the stars and drying them into constellations. That dream has been there. Maybe you shouldn't have mentioned curious well, yeah. You know I mean that's just such a part of history of technology, right in and sciences. We Teddy Roosevelt. said it best. You know you get into the arena, and sometimes you fail, but you gotTA. Pick yourself up and go, and and it is part of this grand adventure is that it's a business? It's a science. It's technology technology been aerospace's is something we have to accept you're gonNA. GonNa face challenges. You have to have the strength to overcome them in the imagination to create that innovation and discovery to move it forward and I think that's what we build these great edifices to that you think about it other than again the arts. What do we build museums for aviation everywhere? It's just something that captures the imagination. It's one of the greatest things we do. We've. Broken the bonds of Earth we've broken the bonds of gravity and traveled into space and it really it. One of the greatest things we do is humanity is is achieving flight so I think it is easy to get that inspiration to create that wonder and that dream in the next generation. Will actually Sonos seven and much greater acceptance of air travel. It was obvious that if that efficiency could be built another airplanes, the whole transportation system, take off and produce quite a bit of benefits to everybody including prophets to the operator so Boeing then pursue medium airplanes like the seventy seven, and finally all the way down to the little seven three seven, so the jets really. Really cover the whole field air travel really did take off because of the jets, and it was obvious that the next step is to try and satisfy a bigger market demand. More people wanted to travel. The cost of air travel is still a little bit too high. The way to improve that is to go after better efficiency, which meant improved engines and better aerodynamics better structure. And larger capacities. Boeing! and. Discussing the situation with major potential customers was amazed to find out that the airplanes. We were thinking too small. And that really was bringing into being an airplane, the size of the seven forty seven. That size was not picked by bowling. It was picked by airlines like an American British Airways Lufthansa Japan Airlines. And it was quite a shock to we engineers when they asked us to produce in that lurch especially with a brand, new style of engine called a high bypass ratio engine. And you have to give a lot of credit to engine manufacturers without those engines, we couldn't be making their type airplanes like some forty seven. But the combination of a very efficient high bypass ratio engine, also it gives us the ability to lift capacity to the air that produced offering economic suck really produced air transportation as we know it today. It was a very very bold gamble. Boeing was putting the network of the company and online. it exhausted. Boeing Resources and Boeing Pretty thin financially you at the time we'd Bloomberg. The I seven forty seven. I think that Kinda gamble would be hard to take today. On February, the ninth nine, hundred, sixty, nine, after days of Subzero conditions, the sudden force of Niche crew were ready for the first flight. The rain and code conditions stool. And the hopeful breaking the weather did not materialize. They waited for a break in the dodge that covered paine field to Everett Washington state. Then just before noon, the hope for breaking the town's game and the seven four seven screw decided to attempt a take off. Just a thousand yards of runway, the sixteen wheeled three hundred seventeen largest passenger aircraft in the world took to the air. The Qantas plane that said goodbye to stray at this week, the grand seven four seven. An Irish with Boeing historian Michael Lombardi at the flat museum in Seattle. And our best wishes to all those in the aviation industry as they ride these turbulent times. So what's next in the air? Here's Sancho producer David Fisher with thoughts of frequent flyer. I have to admit it. I probably fly too much till use to. A long haul must use Use Zealand for the weekend, and all those domestic flights all possible. If you're a sleuth for cheap fares, a lot to think I am. And now aviation is transforming. It into what? The industry's been pummeled as the world response to the virus. Many international borders shot travelers from the US not welcomed in Europe here in Australia. Incoming passengers now have to pay for two weeks hotel, quarantine, and in Sydney. You need to be one of just three hundred fifty lucky arrivals permitted each day. Qantas said it might be a year before international flights are back to normal. That'd be lucky. Meanwhile Airlines are moving away from large aircraft. The trend has been on for a while, but now the changes sped up. Qantas has just retired its last seven, four seven after impressive fifty years of service. British Airways have retard the entire fleet of thirty to seven four sevens, just like that. Then this the eighty which never worked for airlines operating costs silage. If the aircraft isn't full, it runs at a loss passes, loved it with all that space, but the hub model of flying supported by jumbo aircraft was even out of date when the first three eighty two passengers back into thousand and seven. A used a three eighty is now worth nothing. Sure they can be parked in a desert somewhere and most will be brought back into service, but the second hand value. Zip. Smaller more efficient aircraft such as the seventy seven main point to point is now the way. Rather than two to three hours to a hub, a long flight to a second hob followed by another two three hours. You can likely get to distance with one flight. Is it time for a radical new approach new aircraft new technology? The triangulate blended wing form has been on the drawing board for over ten years. This is known as the silent aircraft. It office far less drag than the tube design familiar with with the engines mounted above the wing, shielding those on the ground from engine noise, although there's the not so small problem of how to get everyone out fast enough in emergencies. Engines. The present design is a compromise of efficiency between high and low altitude flying. Just as wings change shape for takeoff, cruise and landing so could. especially the nozzle where the gas exits at the Rio offering huge savings in burnt fuel and emissions and one of electric aircraft, if batteries can be developed with sufficient grunt, aircraft to the future wouldn't have to lift all that fuel. Shaw batteries are heavy, but for some flights, the white calculations a tipping on the side of batteries. Today's planes burn fuel to carry fuel and reducing emissions from aviation is a priority. Any Zealand and engine manufacturer, Rolls Royce or exploring hybrid jet fuel electric plans for short flights, but sadly there up against Boeing and Airbus who have shown a lack of enthusiasm. These radical new designs can take up to twenty years to make it to production and with the whole sector bleeding end on life support. I wouldn't be surprised if research took a backseat for a while. And how to judge future demand for air travel until we have a vaccine and treatment for covert flying is likely to main being cooped up for hours, wearing a mask with little interaction with other passengers or crew, as everyone will be wearing a mask at might end up being essential travel only for quite some time. Let's hope this new world is a temporary one. Yes, let's hope with David Fisher.