The History of Commercial Aircraft

The history of flight and aircraft spans across thousands of years, progressing from simple kites to the full fledged aircraft that we know and rely on today. While flight and aircraft as we are familiar with have existed for over 100 years now, it may be surprising that aircraft as a method of commercial transportation is a fairly new addition to our society that is still developing. In this blog, we will discuss the rise of commercial aviation through modern history.

To best understand commercial aviation, it is important to understand its modern roots. With early flight, aircraft served mostly as personal projects for research as people sought to push their limits further and further. A few years after the Wright brothers flight in 1903, aircraft became an established technology and quickly became an asset for military purposes. During WW1, aircraft and their pilots served as reconnaissance and fighters, bringing on rapid changes to aircraft capability and pilot skill. Due to their newfound expertise, US pilots from WWI were excited to show off their skills back home, and the barnstormer trend began with air shows, passenger rides, and competitions across the country. This interest in flying paved the way for passenger services to become a profitable venture and airlines to form.

Around this time, Europe also launched their first airline in Britain named Aircraft Transport and Travel. Former military aircraft were retrofitted and modified to allow for two passengers to be carried during each flight across the English Channel. Soon after, many other countries followed suit and airliners began to emerge and grow with growing governmental support. With more demand and popularity, the focus of design began to shift towards passenger comfort as cabins began to become more luxurious and weather was taken into account before each flight for safety and ease of flight.

As commercial aircraft advanced in technology and popularity, regulations for safety were adopted in many countries, each setting their own rules and authorities to monitor concerns and issues. As airlines began branching out across the world, international organizations also formed so that agreements could be made and safety upheld together. Since then, the airline industry has seen many shifts from ownership between private and government entities, alliances between airlines, regulations, and economic swings. Nevertheless, commercial aviation has quickly become an integral part of many societies, opening the world to many people who can now travel quickly and easily as airlines continue to pave their way.

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