Chapter 7

The time had come. All the major carriers had made their decisions, and the clear leader over the BAC-111 and the latest competitor was the 737. It was now United Airlines turn to decide.

It became clear very early that the competitors were the 737 and the DC-9-30, a stretch derivative of the basic DC-9. The BAC-111 could not keep up with the pace of development of these two aircraft. Eastern Airlines created the Series 30 aircraft during the competition in which they had purchased the DC-9. United was redefining the Eastern version and we were now ready for a United Airline management decision. John put his full effort into this one. He did not deserve what happened.

The Series 30

At the board meeting, United's technical staff recommended that they purchase the DC-9. Bill Patterson, then President of United, held up the decision stating that he had to review the recommendation. Boeing had told Bill that if United did not purchase the 737, they would cancel the program, and the DC-9 would not have a competitor. They forgot to remind Bill that they did not have a competitor for the 727. Two weeks later, Bill announced that he would go with the six abreast 737, as this was the rational in the purchase of the DC-8. This was his reason, but it seemed obvious that pressure from Boeing through their Washington D.C. politics, in a regulated airline system, did not hurt Boeing. Douglas management could not muster the required politics to assist the salesman.

While John was trying to salvage his career, Gerry Thomas was looking for an excuse to move John out of the Domestic Marketing group. Uniteds decision provided a strong impedes for Gerry to move on John. Soon John brought in North Central and while he was involved with this airline, my eyes turned eastward.