Seattle, London-The Boeing Co has marked its centennial with plans to sharpen its focus on innovation, including ambitious projects for supersonic commercial flight and a rocket that could carry humans to other planets.
But innovation at Boeing will be “disciplined” and not endanger the future of the world’s biggest plane maker, Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg told reporters at an event marking the company’s founding on July 15, 1916.
The enterprise established by William Boeing in a Seattle boathouse has faced numerous “bet the company” moments over its 10 decades to bring out new planes such as the 707 and 747.
“We have won for 100 years because of innovation,” Muilenburg said. “The key is disciplined innovation. We’ll take risks. We’ll invest smartly.”
Chicago-based Boeing has managed to stay ahead of European rival Airbus in plane production and is a major defense and space contractor, producing fighter jets, aerial refueling tankers, communications satellites and rockets.
The company is exploring the possibilities of commercial supersonic and hypersonic planes, Muilenburg said. It also is at work on a manned mission to Mars. Though those are perhaps many decades away, “I’m anticipating that person will be riding on a Boeing rocket,” Muilenburg said.
More immediately, Boeing is pressing for licenses to conclude sales of 109 aircraft to Iran, including leased jets, despite opposition from some in Congress.
Muilenburg said Boeing is arguably stronger now than at any point in its 100-year history. It has a backlog of 5,700 plane orders, enough to keep its factories humming for six or seven years.
“Even though we’re arguably the best aerospace company in the world today, we have to continue to invest in innovation,” he said.