It's Boeing. Starting from their first aircraft models Boeing B&W and Douglas DT/C-1 and up to the modern airfreight Boeing 747-400, company Boeing and Boeing-related enterprises had been always on the frontier of air cargo industry, and nowadays Boeing airfreights stand for 90% of commercial air cargo companies.
Everything started with mail delivery. Today lots of us associate aircrafts with people transportation, but primary Boeing was responsible only for cargo.
The company was started in 1916, when Bill Boeing and his partner George Westervelt made a first model of future civil aviation's world leader- jet B&W. B&W had later become the first plane that was delivering cargo and mail to New Zealand. Three years later Bill Boeing and Eddie Hubbard delivered 60 letters from Vancouver, Canada to Seattle, which became the first event in the history of international air shipping.
Nearly at the same time, company Douglas Aircraft had signed a contract with U.S. Navy and designed its second plane DT 1. On the base of DT there were produced 59 postal jets, including a well-known Douglas M-2, which became one the first commercial planes, that was delivering commercial mail in the U.S.A.
Already in 1923, Boeing Company had designed a plane for delivering mail (Model 40), and two years later Model A, which had Model 40 in its basis. In 1927 Model 40A was equipped with a lighter engine with air cooling, and it was chosen by postal service for mail delivery on a route San Francisco - Chicago.
The period of 1940 is called a transition period in the history of the company. "According to public opinion, Douglas DC-3 is the best jet of its time. Only because of him air traveling became popular and avia companies started to prosper" says Jim Edgar, marketing director of Boeing, "Its stable body brought public transportation and air cargo to a new level."
DC-3 became popular among army and navy, as it could carry up to 54000 lbs on board and were quite spacious for transportation of land means of transportation. In 1940-1945 the production of DC-3 achieved the level of 10-000 planes, and various air companies had been using DCs for a long time.
In 1957 DC-3 of Lufthansa made its firtst cargo flight from Germany to New York, giving a start to successful cooperation of Boeing Company with North Atlantic air companies.
Jet planes era.
In some next years companies Douglas and Boeing had adopted jet engine for planes. The first model of jet airfreight was Boeing Dash 80, which was a very successful plane later used as refueller in the modification KC-135.
Up to 1970 ies new jets designed by Boeing and Douglas companies took the leading place in public air transportation and air cargo. 1960 ies were a very successful period, when air industry really boosted, as the demand for the transportation was growing. The efficiency of airfreights grew in four times in some 10-year period. Moreover, models introduced by Boeing and Douglas in sixties are still used nowadays. The tendency of reequipping airplanes from public to airfreights allows giving new life to a plane, making it a very effective airfreight from an airliner.
With a growing demand on jet airfreights there were designed special cargo modifications of jets used before only for public transportation: DC-9,DC-10, Boeing 767, Boeing 757, Boeing 737 and MD-11.
Boeing 747 had opened a new era in air cargo. When this model was first introduced, specialists already knew that it would serve as an excellent airfreight for years. Boeing 747 has all technical characteristics that allow it to be used as airfreight after serving for regular public air transportation.
The fact that Boeing 747 forms 50% of all airfreights worldwide tells that this plane has become an excellent solution for air cargo. With appearance of Boeing 747 air cargo grew rapidly forming an integral part of modern international economics infrastructure.
The basics of such successlies in universality of Boeing 747 model. Boeing 747-400F is able to carry up to 230-000 pounds for a distance of 5700 miles without stops. It's one of the few models of modern airfreights that has hatches on sides and in the bow, which provides additional features for commercial exploitation. Such construction allows air cargo operators to make from 4 to 6 million dollars more a year from evbery plane, compared to other airfreights.
Most of air cargo experts are sure that Boeing 747 will remain to be a reliable cargo means for a long time, and recent cargo statistics proves it. Most of companies report that nearly 90% of their income depends on Boeing 747 airfreights.
Only rapid development of aviation in the first part of the twentieth century, when the usage of aviation was expanding the limits of an innovative entertainment and luxury and was wider used in military purposes, most of world's industry leaders began to think about aviation as an alternative way of transportation and freight traffic.
As writer Camellie Allaz states: "From 1925 onwards, major American capital interests began to look at commercial aviation, which seemed to be developing into a profitable activity. Considerable investments were made in the aviation industry and air transport.
Two men, different as chalk and cheese, played a decisive role in the metamorphosis of civil aviation in the United States. One of them became a worldwide celebrity and legendary hero, and the other, a lawyer and politician, became the omnipotent Postmaster General. The former was Charles A. Lindbergh, and the latter Walter F. Brown. They had one thing in common:their faith in aviation.
Today, it is difficult to imagine the demonstrations of enthusiasm which swept through American and European public opinion when Lindbergh crossed the North Atlantic from Long Island to Le Bourget on the 20th to 21st May 1927 at the controls of his little single-engined Ryan, christened "Spirit of St. Louis." In the United States, his exploit dramatically fired the growth of air passenger transport."(from History of Air cargo and Airmail p.61)
Still at the begging of air cargo era, freight traffic was a minimal part from the whole goods traffic. Aviation was predominantly used for mail delivery and for the delivery of emergent products, but not for the delivery of common goods as it's used now.
In some two years there was set up an airmail network countrywide, connecting such major cities as Washington, New York, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco and others by air mail delivery services provided by Contract Airmail. CAM (Contract airmail) was considered to be a very profitable project that attracted a lot of investors.
The growth of demand in transportation industry boosted the development of cargo aviation. In some two decades of constant growth this branch of aviation turned into an independent industry. Already in early 1940 ies its potential was really high for being used for greater cargo amounts, so on an experimental basis, United Airlines launched a daily cargo service from New York to Chicago on 23rd December 1940, exclusively reserved for express freight and mail. It was operated with DC-3 passenger aircraft, and remained traditional in its commercial approach. It closed down on 31st May 1941."(from History of Air cargo and Airmail p.176)
WW2 slowed the development of civilian air cargo for 4-year time period, substituting it by military cargo. Still the development of new industry had a high potential, as airplane producers got more and more orders and increased the production of airplanes. In 1945-1946 the U.S.A. came with a new product that had changed the life style of millions forever: it was air freight, a developed and effectively functioning sector of economics, one of the most profitable and dynamically developing transportation business in history.
By the opinion of top manager of American Airlines, airfreight had become even a new philosophy:
Airfreight is designed to move merchandise at air speed in a regular flow on a volume basis... A new fleet of air-freighters is coming - with large capacity for Air Age distribution needs. But it is not too early to investigate possibilities now, so you'll be ready when war restrictions end. We invite you to take advantage of the services of our sales engineering staff now, because it sometimes takes months to engineer for airfreight, to determine its potential benefits for any particular commodity." (from History of Air cargo and Airmail)
Their enthusiasm about the development of industry was unlimited, and iit could not even be limited by technological limits of existing planes and fuel problems that had always existed in this industry. May be they were encouraged by the growing demand of air cargo in the U.S.A. And in after-war Europe, which was rapidly restoring its economics and integrating into the system of world trade with the U.S.A. Some of them even proposed the following:
Most of the nations of the world will become America's nextdoor neighbours in the post-war air ag e, when vast fleets of sky giants make regular ports of call,…