Flight test: Baby Boeing to Queen of the Skies

By Chuck Easterwood

October 2016

I worked at Boeing from 1966 to 1971. My first job was as flight test engineer on the 737 and 747 airplane programs. It was far and away the best job of my career. The hours were long and demanding, but the rewards were great. I was on the team that obtained the Federal Aviation Administration certification for two of the most successful programs in Boeing history.

The 747 certification program was groundbreaking, because it was the first commercial jumbo jet in existence. The certification process involved the largest instrumentation and data gathering program ever attempted for an aircraft. Flight testing the 747 brought new revelations about the differences between jumbo jets and smaller jets. The differences in structural dynamics between large jets and conventional jets created new technologies to understand the problems presented. Both the 737 and 747 programs were among the most successful in Boeing history. I was privileged to be a part of both programs.