First I'd like to wish you a happy new year and many nice flights wherever you may go.
This, being my first post of the new century, I think that it would be a good idea to go all the way through the last century and review the history of aviation from the beginning.
The XXst century has seen a lot of progress in the history of aviation. Mankind always wanted to fly in the air, like a bird, so he invented a machine capable to carry him in the air. In 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright made the very first flight in an airplane heavier than air. Since then, many new airplanes were designed thanks to research and development in aeronautical technology. Air travel started to grow. In the beginning, only pilots could fly on an airplane. Since air travel evolved with the famous DC-3 and the foundation of airlines in the 1920's and 1930's, travelling in the air became possible for more and more people. In the 1950's, the jet age began. With the jet age, people could travel about twice as fast as with conventional propeller aircraft. In 1970, the widebody era began. This is where the progress of aviation can be seen, the length of the Boeing 747 is longer than the total distance flown by the Wright brothers. Air travel has since then increased dramatically and today (year 2000), the airlines carry about one quarter of the world population. I'll go through the century as follows:
End of XIXth century: people try to design devices that can fly in the air.
1903: Orville and Wirbur Wright make first flight.
1909: Louis Bleriot, a French aviator, flies across the Channel.
1916: The Boeing Company is founded.
1919: KLM, the oldest airline still in business, is founded.
Early 1920's: Qantas is founded.
1923: Sabena is founded.
1927: Charles Lindberg is the first pilot to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Pan American World Airways is founded, it's the first airline in the United States to receive approval to fly internationally.
1931: Boeing introduces its first airliner, the 247. United Airlines is founded.
1933: Air France is founded.
1934: American Airlines is founded.
1935: Douglas introduces the DC-3.
1936: Aer Lingus is founded.
1944: Saint Exupery, a French pilot and writer, dies in an airplane accident.
1946: SAS is founded.
1947: Northwest is the first US airline to fly to Asia.
1948: El Al is founded, following Israel's independence.
1949: The jet age begins in England. The DH Comet makes maiden flight.
Early 1950's: Boeing starts working on its first jetliner, the 707.
1952: American introduces the DC-6.
1954: The first 707 rolls out and makes maiden flight.
1955: The Caravelle, first French built jetliner, makes maiden flight.
1958: Pan Am introduces the 707 on transatlantic flights.
1959: American and TWA introduce the 707. Air France introduces the Caravelle.
1960: Sabena introduces the 707.
1963: Boeing introduces its next jet, the 727.
1964: The 727 enters service.
1965: Delta introduces the DC-9.
1966: Pan Am helps Boeing launch the 747.
1967: Boeing introduces the 727 Stetch.
1968: Lufthansa introduces the 737.
1969: The 747, the first widebody, makes maiden flight.
1970: The widebody era begins. Pan Am introduces the 707, so will many other major airlines.
1971: American introduces the DC-10 for which it was the launch customer.
1973: Sabena introduces the DC-10 and celebrates 50th anniversary.
1972: TWA and Eastern introduce the L-1011, the only jetliner Lockheed has ever made. Airbus introduces its first aircraft, the A300.
1974: The A300 enters service with Air France. British Airways is created following the merger of BEA and BOAC.
1975: Boeing rolls out the 747SP.
1976: Supersonic flights begin with the introduction of the Concorde. Pan Am introduces the 747SP. 1977: Worst disaster in aviation history: two 747's collide with each other in Teneriffe.
1978: Boeing starts working on new aircrafts, the 757 and 767. Deregulation in US airline industry.
1979: The DC-10 is grounded by the FAA.
1980: Robert Crandall becomes the president of American Airlines. Mc Donnel Douglas introduces the DC-9 Super 80. National is merged into Pan Am.
1981: The 767 makes maiden flight. American retires last 707. British Airways retires last VC-10.
1982: United introduces the 767. The 757 makes maiden flight. Braniff ceases operations.
1983: The 757 enters service with launch customers Eastern and British Airways. At the same time, the A310 enters service with launch customers Swissair and Lufthansa.
1984: Delta introdues the 757. American places a large order at Mc Donnel Douglas for Super 80's. Braniff comes back. Last 727 built for Fed Ex.
1985: Northwest launches the 747-400. Southwest and US Air introduce a new 737, the 737-300. British Airways introduces new colours.
1986: Pan Am's Pacific routes are taken over by United. United places large order at Boeing for 737's. Ozark is merged into TWA.
1987: Airline mergers: People Express is merged into Continental, Western is merged into Delta and Republic is merged into Northwest.
1988: British Caledonian is merged into British Airways. Piedmont introduces the 737-400. Air France introduces the A320.
1989: Northwest introduces the 747-400 and a new colour scheme. Piedmont is merged into US Air. Air Cal is merged into American. Eastern is in trouble, so is Braniff.
1990: The MD-11 makes maiden flight and enters service with Finnair. Boeing announces the 777.
1991: Crisis in air transport: Eastern and Pan Am shut down, TWA and Continental are in trouble.
1992: UTA is merged into Air France. Continental introduces a new color scheme. Delta becomes very strong on the transatlantic sector. Braniff dies.
1993: United introduces the A320 and a new color scheme. Boeing announces the Next Generation 737. Lufthansa introduces the A340.
1994: The 777 makes maiden flight. Lufthansa intruduces the A321. KLM celebrates 75th anniversary. 1995: United introduces the 777 for which it was the launch customer. Delta introduces the MD-90 for which it was the launch customer.
1996: TWA introduces a new corporate image. Aer Lingus celebrates 60th anniversary. Valujet, a domestic US airline, is grounded by the FAA. American places a huge order at Boeing.
1997: The 737-700 makes maiden flight. Mc Donnel Douglas is merged into Boeing.
1998: Boeing introduces largest widebody and single aisle aircraft, the 777-300 and the 757-300. Boeing also introduces the 717, formerly MD-95. Southwest introduces the Next Generation 737, the 700, for which it was the launch customer.
1999: American celebrates 40 years of jet operation. Reno Air is merged into American.
2000: Concorde is grounded by French aviation authorities following the disaster in Paris. Airbus launches its superjumbo, the A380.
2001 and beyond: The 727's, operated mainly on US domestic flights, are becoming rare with the major airlines. The airlines are renewing their fleets with new fuel efficient aircrafts. Alliances such as One World and Star remain strong. Boeing and Airbus will remain the two dominant aircraft manufacturers in the world. The 737 and the A320 will continue to compete against each other in the short and medium haul market, likewise the 767 and 777 will continue to compete against the A330 and A340 in the long haul market.
Despite quite a few major disasters in aviation history, air transportation will always remain the safest way of travelling. Air travel is expected to grow dramatically in the next twenty years or so, this means that the number of passengers and amount of freight carried will continue to rise. The airlines and the manufacturers are working on ways to improve the safety and efficiency of aircrafts. Until Airbus Industries launched its A380, Boeing had the monopoly of the market in civil aviation since it introduced the 747 three decades ago. The A380, which will compete with Boeing's 747, will bring comfort to passengers with the availability of bars, small "living rooms" as well as many other amenities. Not only will air travel be safer and more efficient, it will bring to passengers and crew members a new level of comfort in the XXIst century.