Historical Development of Air Transport

  • Dieter Schmitt
  • Volker Gollnick


The historical development of air transport starts with a short review of myths and legends, the Dream of flying, which is as old as mankind. The next part covers the physically based approach of flying, starting from Da Vinci and his drawings of flying vehicles, via the Montgolfier’s hot air balloon, Sir George Cayley and his principles of flying. The part about the technically based approach covers briefly the different attempts from Clement Ader, Otto Lilienthal up to the Wright brothers, who finally in 1903 managed to fly with a vehicle heavier than air. It follows the beginning of commercial air transport in Europe and US between the two World Wars. In the 1950s, the jet age in civil air transport started with a disaster of Comet, but all lessons learned from these air accidents helped other companies to start successfully these new jet engine types of civil transport aircraft, which are still flying today. The aircraft design parameters of speed, range, size and fuel efficiency and their development of the last century are shortly addressed to extract the standards and the maturity of today’s air transport system. A brief review of the airline development follows with the example of KLM. It follows a short airport review, where the airport development of Atlanta—the biggest airport today—is taken as example.


Aircraft Design International Civil Aviation Organization Transport Aircraft Aircraft Manufacturer Fixed Wing Aircraft 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ARTS-DS Aeronautical Reserach & Technology ServiceFrankfurt/MainGermany
  2. 2.Institute for Air Transportation SystemsTechnical University Hamburg-HarburgHamburgGermany

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