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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

    CONTACT: John Blacksten


    AIAA Mourns the Death of Joseph F. "Joe" Sutter
    AIAA Honorary Fellow and Former Chief Engineer of the Boeing 747 Project

    September 9, 2016 – Reston, Va. – The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) mourns the death of Joseph F. “Joe” Sutter, AIAA Honorary Fellow, and former chief engineer of the Boeing 747 project. Sutter was 95 years old.

    “Joe Sutter’s foresight, unique talents and insightful vision gave the world one of its most well-known airplanes,” said AIAA President Jim Maser. “His leadership of the 747 project resulted in an aircraft that revolutionized flight and that helped bring the world closer together. We mourn his loss, but honor him for his tireless efforts throughout his career to continually innovate how we fly.”

    Sutter began his career at The Boeing Company after World War II, and worked on nine Boeing aircraft, the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser, the Boeing 367-80 (better known as the Dash 80), 707, 720B, 727 and 737. Sutter is best known for leading the Boeing 747 project, including changing the design from the proposed narrow, double-decker concept to a larger, wide-bodied aircraft. His decision to place the aircraft’s cockpit above the aircraft’s main deck led to the creation of the 747’s iconic humped shaped body. In his later career with Boeing, Sutter was involved with the creation of Boeing’s 757 and 767 aircraft. After retirement from Boeing in 1986, Sutter stayed involved with the 747 program as a consultant and his work was instrumental to completing the design changes that created the 747-400 and the 747-800 models of the jetliner.
    n addition to his career at Boeing, Sutter also served on the presidential commission that investigated the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.

    Sutter’s past awards include the 1990 AIAA/ASME/SAE/AHS Daniel Guggenheim Medal, the 1986 Wright Brothers Trophy, the 1985 National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the 1980 AIAA/SAE William Littlewood Memorial Lecture and the 1971 AIAA Aircraft Design Award.


    About AIAA
    is the largest aerospace professional society in the world, serving a diverse range of more than 30,000 individual members from 88 countries, and 95 corporate members. AIAA members help make the world safer, more connected, more accessible, and more prosperous. For more information, visit, or follow us on Twitter @AIAA.



    American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
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    Phone: 703.264.7558 Fax: 703.264.7551