Two of the manufacturers most popular airliners the Boeing 737 and McDonnell Douglas MD-80 pictured at Las Vegas. (Photo: Tomás Del Coro from Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons)

MIAMI – Today in Aviation, Boeing completed its merger with McDonnell Douglas in 1997.

McDonnell Douglas could trace its history back to 1967, when the Douglas and McDonnell Aircraft companies merged. Boeing meanwhile, was founded by William Boeing back in 1916.

The two companies had been competitors for many years. But as the industry entered the 1990s, McDonnell Douglas struggled to keep up with the mighty Boeing and European rival Airbus.

Rumors of a merger between the pair began to circulate but no official announcement was made until December 1996. Despite early concerns from regulatory bodies, namely the European Commission, the US$13.3bn merger was approved seven months later.

Following the merger the MD-95 became the Boeing 717. Photo: Boeing

Corporate Makeover


The Boeing name would survive and a new corporate identity was introduced. Created by graphic designer Rick Eiber the new look was based on the McDonnell Douglas logo.

The deal allowed Boeing to use McDonnell Douglas’ surplus factory capacity. The latter had long seen a downturn in their commercial airliner business. Just the MD-80, MD-90, MD-95 and MD-11 were in production at the time. Only the MD-95 and MD-11 would survive, albeit with the MD-95 renamed the Boeing 717 and the MD-11 as a freighter only.

Where McDonnell Douglas excelled was its military aircraft. The manufacturer supplied aircraft to the United States, Great Britain, Italy and Japan amongst others. The merger allowed Boeing to gain a much firmer footing in the military sector.