United Airlines and Boeing: A History - United Hub

United Airlines and Boeing: A history

By Benét J. Wilson, October 19, 2017

As United Airlines prepares to bring on the Boeing 777-300ER and retire the 747 from its fleet, we take a look back at the connection between these two companies that goes all the way back to the very beginning of commercial aviation. These are two companies who've been partners in flight for nearly 90 years.

United and Boeing were originally part of one company. The carrier’s predecessor company, Boeing Air Transport, was founded on June 30, 1927, as an airline to operate mail routes.

On October 30, 1928, the Boeing Airplane and Transport Corporation was created to handle both airline and aircraft manufacturing operations. The company’s name was changed on February 1, 1929, to United Aircraft and Transportation Corp., which included Boeing Aircraft of Canada, Northrop Aircraft Corp., Stearman Aircraft Co., Sikorsky Aviation Corp. and Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Co.

In March 1931, Boeing Air Transport, National Air Transport, Varney Airlines and Pacific Air Transport combined to form United Air Lines, which offered passenger and mail service from coast to coast. But after an air mail scandal, Congress passed legislation barring aircraft manufacturers from owning airlines. As a result, United Aircraft and Transport Corporation split into its three parts – Boeing, United Aircraft and United Air Lines.

In 1933, United started flying the Boeing 247, a twin turboprop aircraft with technological advances including all-metal construction and one of the first retractable landing gear systems. The aircraft was also able to fly across the country without passengers having to change planes or stop overnight.

By 1947, United’s fleet continued to evolve, first with the Douglas DC-4, and then with the DC-6, which introduced pressurized cabin service for passengers. The DC-6 could also fly coast to coast, only stopping in Lincoln, Nebraska. In the next decade, United’s fleet included DC-6s, DC-7s and Convair CV-240 aircraft.

Meanwhile, Boeing began moving into the jet age in 1952, when it started building the Model 367-80, a four-engine jet that eventually became the 707.

United ended up buying the Douglas DC-8 instead of the 707. It also bought the Caravelle, a shorter-range twinjet made by France’s Sud Aviation, and became the first airline to fly Boeing’s four-engine, shorter-haul 720 jet.

After merging with Capital Airlines in June 1961, United’s fleet underwent more changes, with the addition of the British-built Vickers Viscount mainline turboprop aircraft.

A year later, Boeing rolled out the three-engine 727-100 jet, and United began flying the aircraft in 1964. In April 1965, United placed an order for 66 aircraft and options on another 39 with Boeing, making it the largest commercial order ever made by an airline at the time.

In the same year, Boeing launched the now iconic twin-engine 737. A year after launching the 737, Boeing announced plans to build the nearly 500-seat 747, dubbed the Queen of the Skies. United received its first 747 in August 1970.

In 1978, Boeing began production on both the narrow-body 757 and the wide-body 767. United Airlines was the launch customer for the 767 and it entered the fleet in 1982. Three years later, United bought Pan Am’s Pacific Division for $750 million, which included a fleet of Boeing 747SP and Lockheed L-1011-500 wide-body jets.

On October 29, 1990, Boeing formally moved forward with the 777, with an initial order of 34 airplanes and 34 options by United Airlines. The first 777 was delivered to United on May 17, 1995, and the first flight was from Washington, D.C. to London.

A month later, Boeing’s board authorized production of the Boeing 777-300, and on February 24, 2003, the 777-300ER completed its first flight.

In 2005, the company launched the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner and delivered its last 757. On July 8, 2007, the first 787 Dreamliner was rolled out at a celebration attended by 15,000 people at Boeing’s Everett, Washington final assembly factory. In 2009, United announced an order of 50 787 Dreamliners, making it the North American launch customer.

Two years after United and Continental Airlines merged in 2010, the airline took delivery of its first Dreamliner to use on international routes to Africa, Asia and Europe. In April 2015, United ordered 10 Boeing 777-300ERs and unveiled the aircraft type in February 2017 – complete with the new Polaris international business class cabin –to fly between San Francisco and Hong Kong.

The future looks bright for the continued partnership between United and Boeing, with more deliveries scheduled for the 777-300ER, the 737MAX and the 787 Dreamliner. These jets will fuel United’s future growth and ensure that passengers can get to the places they want to go.

Celebrating immigration perspectives and diverse journeys

By The Hub team, September 25, 2020

From Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, the U.S. celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month, a chance to pay tribute to the history, culture and contributions that generations of Latinxs have paved to enrich U.S. history. It is also a reminder to celebrate our differences and spark difficult, yet important, conversations.

To kick off the month, UNITE, our multicultural business resource group for employees, did just that by hosting a panel discussion about the immigrant experience and what it means to be an immigrant in the U.S.

United Litigation and Managing Counsel Elizabeth Lopez, who is a pro bono immigration attorney, moderated the panel, and was joined by Ashley Huebner, Associate Director of Legal Services at the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) and Magdalena Gonzalez, Program Manager, Leadership Development Programs at Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement. The three women shared their insights and personal stories, while addressing some misconceptions and highlighting the contributions of immigrants to our company and country.

Participants' headshots from United's Hispanic Heritage Month Panel From left to right, Elizabeth Lopez, Ashely Huebner and Magdalena Gonzalez

"I started to notice that there were things I was scared of doing, that I needed to be cautious," said Magdalena while sharing her personal experience as a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient. "My friends, who a majority of them are citizens, did not need to worry about that. As I was able to see that, I realized that, 'oh, there's so many things that revolve around not just being a DACA recipient but revolve around being a person with an undocumented status here in the United States.'"

United maintains a close relationship with the NIJC. In May of 2019, United co-hosted an asylum clinic put on by the legal services organization, where several attorneys and legal professionals were trained on representing asylum-seeking applicants. At the end of the clinic, members of our legal department were assigned an asylum case through the NIJC.

Litigation Managing Counsel Elizabeth Lopez, Commercial Transactions Counsel Tiffany Jaspers, Global Compliance and Ethics Counsel Nancy Jacobson and Employment Litigation Senior Manager Dorothy Karpierz were partnered with attorneys from the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery to take on an immigration case of a mother of three from Honduras. Recently, after a years-long court battle, the legal team was victorious, changing the life of the woman and her family.

United is committed to connecting people and uniting the world. Whether you're an immigrant, a child of immigrants or simply want to learn more about the immigrant experience in the U.S., discussions like these, related to this hot-button issue, are important to have in order to understand the human lives behind it.

Make your voice heard

By Brett J. Hart, September 22, 2020

Your voice matters. Voting is one of the most influential civic activities we can engage in as Americans. At United, our mission is to connect people and unite the world — and one of the most important ways to do that is to engage in the democratic process. That's why we've long provided our employees with resources to help them get registered to vote.

This year, we're taking our support a step further as the official airline of the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). Since the start of the pandemic, we've overhauled our cleaning measures through a program we call United CleanPlusSM , and the CPD has placed their trust in United to fly Commission production staff to each of the four debates, starting with the first one on September 29, hosted by Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University.

Today, on National Voter Registration Day, we also want to make sure our customers have access to information about how to participate in the 2020 Election. Over the past several months, you've heard a lot from us about how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed air travel. We've learned that with some planning and extra effort, it's still possible — and safe. That's true of voting, too.

No matter which party you support or how you're planning to vote, we know our democracy will be stronger if you make your voice heard and make a plan to vote.


Brett J. Hart
United Airlines

United named to Year Up Opportunity Hall of Fame

By The Hub team, September 17, 2020

Since its launch 20 years ago, Year Up, one of our critical needs grant recipients, has helped more than 10,000 young adults gain access to corporate business and technical experience at large companies like United while offering the invaluable perspectives they bring with them.

On Wednesday, the nonprofit inducted United into its Opportunity Hall of Fame – a selection that occurs once every five years.

Year Up's mission is to help close the opportunity divide by providing urban young adults with the skills, experience and support that will empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education. Since 2018, our partnership has allowed talented student learners the opportunity to gain corporate business experience and technical skill training at the airline while bringing their unique perspectives to our United family and culture. One of those students is Emily Lopez, who graduated from the Year Up program in January 2019 and was hired to be part of the United family as an analyst in Revenue Management.

"I moved from Venezuela to the United States in July 2016 and being a young immigrant with no resources can be difficult to pursue a career in a new country," said Emily.

After learning about Year Up and ultimately being accepted into the program, Emily landed an internship with United, an opportunity she is very grateful for.

Emily Lopez - Analyst, Pricing & Revenue Management

"Feedback from my mentors, coaches and managers was key during my internship phase and helped me convert my internship at United to a full-time position. I am grateful for the opportunity United has provided me and my Year Up Alumni colleagues to keep building a professional career within the company. I am so excited to continue building a professional career with the company and to see United being inducted to Year Up's Hall of Fame. Let's continue closing the opportunity divide!" said Emily.

Although the coronavirus pandemic has made this year's partnership a bit more difficult, we continue to do our part to support the Year Up student learners. Last month, we surprised 145 graduates of this year's Year Up Chicago program with roundtrip tickets to pursue career and networking opportunities within the United States.

"I've been personally honored and inspired to be an advocate for Year Up since I joined United," said CEO Scott Kirby. "This program gives young people from challenged backgrounds an opportunity to get their foot in the door as interns at United. This year's graduates are entering a challenging job landscape, but we have one thing that can help: a route network that provides easy access to major business markets across the United States."

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