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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics



    AIAA Mourns the Death of Honorary Fellow Kenneth F. Holtby
    Key Designer of Boeing 747, 757 and 767 Aircraft

    April 18, 2013 – Reston, Va. – The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) mourns the death of AIAA Honorary Fellow Kenneth F. Holtby, senior vice president, corporate engineering, The Boeing Company, Seattle, Wash., (retired). Holtby passed away on March 27 at the age of 90.

    Holtby played a primary role in designing the Boeing 747 “Jumbo Jet,” a groundbreaking aircraft design that debuted in 1969. Teaming with Joseph Sutter and Robert Davis, Holtby was able to design a commercial aircraft that for nearly 40 years was unmatched in design, speed, passenger capacity, and passenger comfort. Holtby was made vice president and general manager of Boeing’s 747 line in 1972, moving on six years later to run Boeing’s 757 and 767 jetliner projects. Holtby’s 757 and 767 designs featured a two-crew cockpit and uniform control structures for both planes, allowing airlines, for the first time, to have two separate airliners single rated for the same type of crew proficiency. This allowed for great flexibility in assigning crew and more efficient air routes and service. The designs introduced the “glass cockpit,” where all relevant flight data was displayed on computer monitors instead of traditional analogue dials and gauges, enhancing safety by allowing for simpler transmission and understanding of flight data. The glass cockpit is now the industry standard.

    AIAA President Mike Griffin stated: “We mourn the passing of Kenneth F. Holtby, whose groundbreaking design of Boeing’s 747, 757, and 767 aircraft forever revolutionized commercial air travel. From the size and speed of the 747, to the two-crew glass cockpit design of the 757 and 767, there is little doubt that all who have traveled via air since 1969 have, at one time or another, benefited from the durability, reliability and safety of Holtby’s designs. While we are saddened at his loss, we applaud his genius and his commitment to always pushing the boundaries of design to improve aircraft performance and crew and passenger safety and comfort.”

    Holtby, along with the rest of the 747 design team, won the 1997 Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Aerospace Prize, a biennial award presented by the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Foundation and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich., for outstanding aerospace achievement. He was a co-recipient, along with Everette Webb and Philip Condit, of the 1984 AIAA Aircraft Design Award for his managerial and technical leadership on the 757 and 767 design projects.


    AIAA is the world’s largest technical society dedicated to the global aerospace profession. With more than 35,000 individual members worldwide, and100 corporate members, AIAA brings together industry, academia, and government to advance engineering and science in aviation, space, and defense. For more information, visit



    American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
    1801 Alexander Bell Drive, Suite 500, Reston, VA 20191-4344
    Phone: 703.264.7558 Fax: 703.264.7551