First off, Happy New Year to everyone! We’ve started a new year and with every new year we make decision to better our lives and change the way we’ve been doing things, usually with the intent to make our lives better. So whatever decision you’ve made to make your life more fulfilling and enriched please do so with the vigor and resolve to make certain it becomes a reality.
What else happened on the 1st of January? Well, commercial aviation hit a true landmark, it was 100 years ago that the first commercial aviation flight was flown. It was just a short hop from Tampa to St. Petersburg, flying directly over Tampa Bay. It took only 23 minutes and the plane only traveled 18 miles. The plane was a flying boat built by Thomas Benoist, and it never exceeded 15 feet in altitude the entire flight!
The plane was piloted by Tony Jannus and the passenger was Abram C. Pheil the ex-mayor of St. Petersburg, FL. The Honorable Mr. Pheil had won the opportunity to take the flight by winning an auction for the price of $400. Not cheap at all, especially for 1914 standards. That route the went on to average $5 per ticket each way and was highly subsidized by the city of St. Petersburg. The subsidies quickly came to an end when tourist season ended!
Commercial aviation has come a long way since the beginning of commercial operations. Today you can buy a ticket on a major airline for travel this afternoon and find yourself on a direct flight anywhere in the world. Because of technology we are also no longer encountering the limits of weather and distance as we once did, the future of commercial travel is just as bright today as ever before. Air travel into the outer atmosphere of our planet is only a few years away, this would cut the travel time around the globe from continent to continent by more than half.
A recent USA Today article highlights really good predictions into the future of commercial aviation from the guys driving it all, the leaders of major airlines. Here are some of their thoughts:
5 Years in the Future
“Just over a decade ago airlines seemed to be buying every 50-seat aircraft they could get their hands on. But the real utility of those small jets has come and gone and in the next five years we’ll see their numbers in the U.S. continue to dwindle.” – Richard Anderson, CEO Delta Airlines
“We’ll have fewer airlines, but they will be bigger, stronger and healthier.” — Gary Kelly, CEO Southwest Airlines
“The next five years will be all about increasing automation and decreasing labor cost. The industry is already implementing mobile boarding passes, bag drops, even self-boarding. These processes will become more prevalent and significantly reduce the number of employees the customer needs to interact with.” — Maurice J. Gallagher, Jr., CEO Allegiant Travel Co
25 Years in the Future
“The freedom to travel between any two points in the world will be commonplace. There will be billions of travelers every year flying on new aircraft that will be environmentally friendly; in fact, they will be making zero-carbon travel maybe even a reality.” — David Barger, CEO JetBlue Airways
“Many of today’s consumers will be priced out of the air: a sad legacy to 30 years of massive progress in democratizing air travel. Failure to invest in aviation infrastructure and the insatiable appetite for regulation will not be offset by relatively modest further improvements in aircraft efficiency.” — Mark Dunkerley, CEO Hawaiian Airlines:
“A new generation of airlines, who have the vision and willingness to be different, will succeed in cutting costs, improving productivity and finding affordable ways of accessing new markets. The emerging markets — the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia — will become established markets and Abu Dhabi will be one of the uniting global hubs.” — James Hogan, CEO Etihad Airways:
“I have no doubt that during my lifetime we will be able to fly from London to Sydney in under two hours, with minimal environmental impact. The awe-inspiring views of our beautiful planet below and zero-gravity passenger fun will bring a whole new meaning to in-flight entertainment.” — Sir Richard Branson, president Virgin Atlantic Airways
“The airframe and engine manufacturers continue to develop aircraft that are more fuel-efficient, have lower maintenance costs and have greater range and utility. Longer term, I believe manufacturers will explore engine and airframe technology that could significantly reduce travel times, but advances in this area would have to be safe and economical to make a real impact on our industry.” — Jeff Smisek, CEO United Airlines
100 Years in the Future
“The first flight was just 18 miles long, but now look how far we can go. Perhaps in the future, experts will be designing futuristic propulsion systems. We could see innovations in aircraft design, local community-based air transport with smaller, higher efficiency aircraft, and maybe even pilotless commercial aircraft.” — David Siegel, CEO Frontier Airlines
“I am quite certain that Tony Jannus never could have imagined the size and importance of commercial aviation today, or the impact it had on changing our world. Similarly, I cannot imagine what commercial aviation will look like in 2114. I imagine whatever state it is, though, it will be extremely important and its continued development will be a key part of the story that built that world.” — Doug Parker, CEO American Airlines:
“Google’s ‘put me there’ technology implemented into its maps software renders all airlines obsolete.” — Ben Baldanza, CEO Spirit Airlines
The future of aviation is bright and wanting to be a part of that great world is an admirable endeavor. There are many, many jobs and career paths in the aviation field and if you have a passion for flying or all things aviation than any one you choose would be a great decision.
While I can’t exactly agree with Mr. Baldanza from Spirit Airlines, I can say I’m very excited to see what the future holds for commercial flying.