Borge Boeskov, 1935 - 2004

 - April 2, 2007, 1:09 PM

Borge Boeskov, the Icelandic-born father of the Boeing Business Jet, died on June 9 after a lengthy illness, one day shy of his 69th birthday. Apart from a brief stint as v-p of sales and marketing with Mitsubishi Aircraft in Texas when the Japanese manufacturer was introducing the Diamond business jet (later Beechjet and now Hawker 400XP), Boeskov spent his entire career with Boeing, joining the jetliner manufacturer in 1965 soon after receiving his degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Minnesota. He retired two years ago after 37 years with the company.

In the business aviation segment of the industry, Boeskov is best remembered for bringing the Boeing Business Jet into being. After a dinner with General Electric CEO Jack Welch, former Boeing chairman Phil Condit conveyed to Boeskov the GE executive’s complaint that the 737-600 he was using as a business jet did not offer enough range. Condit asked Boeskov if he could do better, and a week later Boeskov had an answer: mate the 737-700 fuselage with the 737-800 wing for more range (belly tanks helped, too), and thus was born the partnership between the two industrial giants that created the BBJ.

Boeskov brought his decades of Boeing jetliner sales experience to bear on selling mainstream business aviation an airplane that offered possibilities (bedrooms, showers, office, dining area, lounge area) and range (6,000+ nm) previously the preserve of oil potentates.

The BBJ initially turned out to be more successful than GE and Boeing (and probably Boeskov) had hoped for. At first the timing was good for catching the wave of prosperity in the late 1990s, but later marred (particularly in the case of NetJets’ fractional plans for the big bizjet) by delayed independent completions that dragged out the delivery of some BBJs into the recession. By the time he retired from Boeing Business Jets in 2002 and passed the reins to Lee Monson, the BBJ was a decidedly tougher sell.

Although born in Iceland, Boeskov moved to Denmark with his family when he was a child. After graduating from the University of Minnesota in 1965, he joined Boeing’s flight operations department, and from 1974 to 1978 he was marketing manager for the 737. His accounts included United and Southwest. After the stint with Mitsubishi, Boeskov rejoined Boeing in 1985, later becoming v-p of international sales, v-p of product strategy for commercial airplanes and, finally, president of Boeing Business Jets.

Remembered by all for his broad grin and his gift for making friends, Boeskov is survived by his wife, Sandy, two sons (one of whom works at Boeing) and
a daughter.