Joe Sutter in 2006
March 21, 1921|
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
|Died||August 30, 2016
Bremerton, Washington, U.S.
|Cause of death||Complications from pneumonia|
|Alma mater||University of Washington|
|Employer||Boeing Commercial Airplanes|
|Known for||Chief engineer for the development of the Boeing 747|
|Notable work||747: Creating the World's First Jumbo Jet and Other Adventures from a Life in Aviation|
|Spouse(s)||Nancy French |
|Parent(s)||Franc Suhadolc (father)
|Awards||United States Medal of Technology (1985)
Daniel Guggenheim Medal (1990)
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Aircraft Award
Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy
Joseph Frederick "Joe" Sutter (March 21, 1921 – August 30, 2016) was an American engineer for the Boeing Airplane Company and manager of the design team for the Boeing 747 under Malcolm T. Stamper, the head of the 747 project. Smithsonian Air and Space Magazine has described Sutter as the "father of the 747". He also was part of a team called the Incredibles.
Early life and education
Sutter was born in Seattle, Washington, and grew up in the vicinity of Boeing's Seattle plant. He was of Slovenian descent—his father, Franc Suhadolc (1879–1945) from Dobrova, Slovenia, came to America as a gold prospector. Sutter attended the University of Washington and graduated with a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering in 1943.
In 1940, Sutter took a summer job at Boeing Plant 2 while studying aeronautical engineering at the University of Washington. Sutter served as a junior officer aboard the destroyer escort USS Edward H. Allen (DE-531) in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
He was a young U.S. Navy veteran finishing his degree when Boeing and Douglas offered him a job, Boeing believed in jet aircraft and he went there: Boeing's Jim Albaugh believe Douglas would probably own Boeing today if went otherwise. At Boeing he eventually ended up becoming the "father of the 747, and today is known for his accomplishments in the world of aviation". He retired from Boeing in 1986, as executive vice president for commercial airplane engineering.
Sutter served on the Rogers Commission, investigating the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. He was also selected as a recipient of the International Air Cargo Association's 2002 Hall of Fame Award and was an engineering sales consultant. As of July 2010, he was a member of the Boeing Senior Advisory Group which is studying a clean sheet replacement of the Boeing 737 or to re-engine the current design. For decades, he resided in West Seattle. In 2011, on his 90th birthday, Boeing's 40-87 building in Everett, WA, the main engineering building for Boeing Commercial Airplanes division, was renamed the Joe Sutter building. Sutter died on August 30, 2016 at a hospital in Bremerton, Washington from complications of pneumonia, at the age of 95.
Aviation author and historian Jay Spenser worked closely with Sutter for 18 months to write his autobiography, entitled 747: Creating the World's First Jumbo Jet and Other Adventures from a Life in Aviation (ISBN 0-06-088241-7). It was published by Smithsonian Books/HarperCollins as a hardcover in 2006 and as a paperback in 2007. This book tells of Sutter's childhood and describes his life and 40-year career at Boeing.
The book details Sutter's tenure as chief engineer of the development of the 747 and elaborates on its design, manufacturing, testing, certification, and delivery to the world's airlines. The book also describes subsequent models of the 747 and the two major-derivative updates to the type, the 747-400 of 1989, and the 747-8.
- Seattle times article
- "The 'Father of the 747'". Air&Space Smithsonian, Bettina Chavanne. January 2007
- Roberts, Sam (September 1, 2016), "Joe Sutter, 95, Dies; Guided Creation of the Boeing 747", The New York Times
- Ronald Reagan Presidential Library: Appointment of Joseph F. Sutter as a Member of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident
- James Albaugh (Dec 4, 2017). "Opinion: Jim Albaugh's Lessons Of Aerospace Success". Aviation Week & Space Technology.
- Tibbits, George (September 14, 2010). "Boeing tearing down plant 2, factory where Seattle became a high tech town". Associated Press, reprinted by FoxNews.com. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
- TIACA profile
- An engineer's perspective on the air transportation industry
- 737 replacement timing depends on engines
- Sutter, Joe and Spenser, Jay. 747: Creating the World's First Jumbo Jet and Other Adventures from a Life in Aviation, University of Washington Press, 2006. ISBN 0-06-088241-7.
- US Government list: The National Medal Of Technology Recipients Archived 2007-09-28 at the Wayback Machine.