Air travel has transformed the way we live our lives, thanks to the significant enhancement in safety. It has allowed us to trust it as a means of transportation, connecting businesses and all of us around the globe, together.
Evolution in aircraft technology and improvements in-flight navigation, training, and air traffic control have made flying much safer. But what makes it so interesting is how much it has changed from the mid-1940s up until now.
Curious? Let’s take a look at aviation safety history starting from 1945.
• 1945, the year commercial aviation took off. During this time, crossing the Atlantic took about 19 hours, usually in ex-military aircraft that had non-pressurized cabins, limited propellers, and unreliable piston engines. Navigation was astral, which also meant there was sometimes poor precision. Plus, there were no radios for communication so the journey would be unpredictable.
• 1955, the year the first jet engine was built. This allowed the aircraft to fly high and above bad weather. Moreover, voice transmission, air traffic control, and more advanced navigation aids were developed, completing the astronavigation system.
• 1958, the first Pan Am 707 non-stop transatlantic flight departed. It flew from Paris to New York City in just 9 hours. During the late 50s and into the early 60s, air travel increased so much that the aviation industry responded by modernizing airports and installing the first computerized air traffic control system in the USA.
• 1969, the turbo-fan jet engines were introduced to power large and more reliable aircraft. This allowed more people to travel to new destinations for leisure purposes, which also brought on charter flights. Some airlines began to develop their own schools to train new pilots to fly their growing fleet of aircraft.
• 1982, the first glass cockpit was established, featuring flight instrument displays. The advancements in computer technology were beginning to benefit different areas of aviation—from a better autopilot and navigation systems to new generation training simulators.
• 1987, the fly-by-wire technology was created. It had flight envelope protection, which prevented severe aircraft maneuvers, signaling a major step in aviation safety. At the same time, more focus was placed on people as a key factor in aviation safety. Authorities developed crew resource training requirements, ensuring the cabin crew had everything they needed to safely manage a flight.
• 2015, the first satellite-based navigation systems were created. This technology is better known as “Gagan”, which stands for GPS Aided GEO Augmented Navigation. Gagan allows for further increased flight precision by correcting the GPS signal to improve air traffic management. It is believed to be 10 times more precise than GPS.
Air travel is a complex system that relies on different parts and people working together to make it all possible. Aviation safety will continue to progress and become more sophisticated with time, always placing the safety of passengers at its forefront.
What do you see in the future of aviation safety?