The Boeing Company, one of the leading aircraft manufactures in the world, has built many significant aircrafts that have great contribution to aviation history. Boeing 707, without a doubt, was one of the most important aircrafts in the history of the Boeing Company. It incorporated several advanced technologies Boeing had at the time, and it opened a brand new page for commercial jetliners. Based on the data provided by Boeing’s official website, a total of 1,010 Boeing 707 jetliners were ordered and delivered during its 20 years of production. Because of the solid foundation Boeing 707 provided for the Boeing Company, the Boeing Company was able to develop a “complete family of commercial jetliner models”(Boeing).
Although Boeing 707 was not the very first jetliner in use, it was the first one that had gained remarkable commercial success. In The Evolution of Modern Aircraft, Loftin stated that “the Boeing 707 transport was the first of the long-range and, for its day, high-passenger-capacity aircraft that marked the real beginning of the revolutionary jet age in air transportation.” The Boeing Company gained a great deal of market share during the rising of Boeing 707.
The development of Boeing 707 started with a single prototype. According to the Boeing Company’s official website, the prototype of Boeing 707 was named Boeing 367-80, and it was referred as “Dash-80” within the Boeing Company. Cook had explained in The Road to the 707 in detail regarding of the development of the Dash-80 prototype. The world’s first commercial jetliner, the deHaviland Comet, was already flown when Boeing’s engineer gather together to discuss the possibility of building its own commercial jetliner. The Comet was designed for shorter routes and was not capable of flying longer routes without being refueled. With the technology and experience Boeing already had at the time, Boeing decided to take some risk and built a game changing commercial jetliner in the industry. (Cook, 212)
Cook pointed out that air-to-air refueling was a “standard feature of the intercontinental bomb mission” postwar. However, the performance difference between aircrafts made it very hard to complete the refuel process. Keeping appropriate distance was very challenging. As a result, Boeing considered building a military version of Dash-80 to better accomplish air-to-air refuel mission. And they hoped that it would also cover some of the development cost and as well as win over some military orders. Air force’s KC-135A was developed parallel from Dash-80. It was one of the most reliable refuel jetliner that served the military.
On April 22, 1952, Boeing officially authorized the development of Dash-80. A total investment of 16 million dollars was estimated (Cook, 214). Such huge investment showed that entire company held high expectation toward the future of 707. Apparently, they had foreseen the bright future 707could bring to the company, even to the industry.