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Article from BTNews 5 SEPTEMBER 2016

Joe Sutter

The man dubbed the father of the Jumbo jet by the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Joe Sutter, has died at age 95. 

As the former chief engineer of Boeing’s 747, Sutter is credited with leading the birth of the first wide-body airliner, which ushered in the globe-shrinking age of mass air travel. 

The son of a first-generation Slovenian immigrant working in the Seattle meat-packing industry, Sutter was fascinated by aviation as a boy and delivered newspapers and worked part-time at Boeing to pay for aeronautical-engineering studies at the University of Washington.

He joined the company after World War II and, among other aircraft, was closely associated with the 727, Boeing’s first short-haul jet, and in particular its sophisticated flap design.  

From 1965 onward, Sutter led the design of the 747, moving away from the initial concepts of a full-length double decker to the very wide single deck with twin aisles – the first wide-body.  

The cross-section, large enough to seat 10-across with two aisles, came from the space required to accommodate two freight pallets on the main deck. The decision to make the aircraft capable of carrying cargo also led to the flight deck being repositioned, creating the 747’s famous hump.


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