International travel has slowed due to the COVID pandemic. However, now that vaccines and more regulations are in place, it’s interesting to see how the airline industry will integrate. I think this might actually fuel innovation when it comes to aerospace and protocol in the industry. What kind of progress has the aerospace or airplane industry made throughout the years? I find it fascinating and wanted to quickly go over the progress we have made since the first aircraft or airplane by the Wright brothers.
The first successful airplane
On December 17, 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright successfully flew their first airplane, which they made for 12 seconds above sand dunes in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. They were the first to fly a heavier-than-air machine that lasted in flight. From 1900 to 1902 they did several experiments with a kite-like aircraft to test aerodynamic performance. Not coincidentally, the Wright Brother’s loved flying kites. Before their success, they tested over 200 different models testing types of wings and airfoil models for improving performance while collecting data. During testing and manning their practice test runs on these models, the Wright Brothers were then considered the top pilots in the world! They started making improvements with the motors after 1903 and based their engine design on internal combustion engine for the automobile. Between the years 1903 and 1913, engine power drastically improved from 12 to 75 horsepower.
Modern day Airplanes for International Travel
I came across this very cool article by National Geographic titled These 9 Airplanes Transformed Flight Over the Last Century which goes over some historical transformational models as well as some futuristic ones. It looks like NASA has made some cool designs and Boeing and JetBlue Airways are working on a startup for a hybrid-electric 12 passenger jet.
Another site gives you a list of US Commercial Aircraft Fleet and the different types of popular aircrafts today but too bad you’re not able to click on them for more information.
The most popular international aircraft for travel is the Boeing 747. Three Types of Commercial Aircraft Used by the Major Airlines gives a good synopsis on each of the popular aircrafts.
“The Boeing 747 “Jumbo Jet” tops the list of most popular aircraft, both for cargo and commercial flights. Boeing’s 747-400 model boasts widespread use among commercial airlines worldwide, including Delta Air Lines, United Continental and British Airways (the latter being the world’s largest operator of the Boeing 747). The 747-400 jet sports a wide-set body and distinctive upper deck shape, giving the plane a sort of “humpback” look.
The 747-400 is one of the fastest commercial jetliners in existence, not to mention the most reliable. Still, after more than a decade of operation for these models, major airlines began retiring their Boeing 747s in late 2017. Delta and United hosted dedicated farewell tours for their 747s, marking the four-engine jet’s final passenger trips with U.S. airlines. Some non-American airlines still operate Boeing 747-400 aircraft, but not for much longer – Qantas, for example, is slated to retire its ageing jets by 2021.”
On a side note the Boeing 737 MAX was cleared by the US Federal Aviation administration (FAA) 20 months after the fleet was grounded globally following two fatal crashes.
I’m pretty interested to see what the aerospace and airline industry have in store for us in the upcoming years and the effects on international travel especially after the COVID-19 pandemic.