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 organizations to arise from dissolution of United Aircraft and Transport; the other two groups 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.
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.
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.
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.