Sut­ter was ‘Fa­ther of 747’

The Daily Herald - - LOCAL NEWS - By Sharon Sa­lyer Her­ald Writer

EVERETT — Joe Sut­ter, known as the “Fa­ther of the 747,” a plane of­ten called the “Queen of the Skies,” died Tues­day.

He was 95. His death was an­nounced by Ray Con­ner, Boe­ing Com­mer­cial Air­planes pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer.

In a mes­sage sent Tues­day af­ter­noon to all Boe­ing employees, Con­ner said: “We lost one of the giants of aero­space and a beloved mem­ber of the Boe­ing fam­ily.

“Joe was loved. He made a dif­fer­ence in the world. He made a dif­fer­ence to us. We will miss him and cher­ish our time with him.”

The 747, with its char­ac­ter­is­tic hump, might be the world’s most iconic jet­liner. It rev­o­lu­tion­ized long-haul fly­ing, con­nect­ing far-flung des­ti­na­tions with one flight. The fact the 747 re­quired an enor­mous new fac­tory brought Boe­ing to Everett.

Everett work­ers have pro­duced more than 1,500 747s since pro­duc­tion be­gan in 1967. An es­ti­mated 3.5 bil­lion pas­sen­gers have flown on 747s.

“Joe lived an amaz­ing life and was an in­spi­ra­tion — not just to those of us at Boe­ing, but to the en­tire aero­space in­dus­try,” Con­ner’s state­ment said. “He per­son­i­fied the in­ge­nu­ity and pas­sion for ex­cel­lence that made Boe­ing air­planes syn­ony­mous with qual­ity the world over.”

Sut­ter led the en­gi­neer­ing team that de­vel­oped the 747 in the mid-1960s. Con­ner said that Sut­ter’s team, along with thou­sands of Boe­ing employees, be­came known as The In­cred­i­bles. They pro­duced what was then the world’s largest air­plane in record time — 29 months from con­cep­tion to roll­out.

“It re­mains a stag­ger­ing achieve­ment and a tes­ta­ment to Joe’s in­cred­i­ble de­ter­mi­na­tion,” Con­ner said.

Sut­ter re­mained ac­tive in the com­pany af­ter he re­tired, serv­ing as a con­sul­tant to the Com­mer­cial Air­planes Se­nior Ad­vi­sory Group. Con­ner said he was a fa­mil­iar sight to many peo­ple work­ing at the com­pany. “His hair was white and he moved a lit­tle slower, but he al­ways had a twin­kle in his eye, a sharp mind and an un­wa­ver­ing de­vo­tion to aero­space in­no­va­tion and The Boe­ing Com­pany,” Con­ner said.

Sut­ter helped cel­e­brate the com­pany’s cen­ten­nial at the Founders Day week­end last month.

In a 2014 interview in The Her­ald, Sut­ter said, “We knew we de­signed a good air­plane be­cause we lis­tened to what the cus­tomer said they wanted.

“When you see a 747 tak­ing off from Seat­tle to go to Lon­don with 350 peo­ple on it, or see a freighter car­ry­ing re­lief sup­plies half­way around the world af­ter a typhoon, you know you’ve done some good for the world,” Sut­ter said.

Her­ald re­porter Dan Catch­pole con­trib­uted.

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