Since its inception, the aviation industry has had its fair share of challenges. From the race to the first powered flight which culminated in the Wright Brothers’ first flight in Kitty Hawk, and throughout the decades leading up to 2001 the aviation industry has seen its fair share of regulation and deregulation, lack of competition, and the acute increase thereof. In 2001 the industry was rocked by a second challenge that was external to the industry that reverberated through it due to its somewhat internal fragility. Bouncing back from the external attacks of 2001, seven years later it was ravaged once more by a global Great Recession. Through various consolidations and restructuring, it thrived again until December 2019. Between December 2019 and March 2020, the industry was once again brought to its knees by the greatest global pandemic since 1918’s “Spanish Flu”.
In this mini book series, we will outline the journey of the aviation industry from its inception to the modern time. Its tremendous importance is regional commerce, global Commerce — modern globalization — some of the key strengths as an industry, something that can only be considered its “Achilles Heel”, and though it is so dysfunctional and in many ways profitable it is considered the most important Industry in our global economy.
We will take a deep dive into some of the sectors that are unique to this industry, and how for better or worse these sectors have stood the test of time. We will also take a journey into some of the players in some of the sectors within the industry that have been left to flourish while the industry flounders, even if they are bad for the industry itself.
We will then take a deep dive into the effects that the vicissitudes of this industry have on the men and women that work in it day to day, and the tremendous impact it invariably has on their lives. In doing so the author hopes that the reader can see the importance of some of the things within the industry and the utter uselessness of others. It is this writer’s view that nothing matters more than the men and women that must live or die in any sector of society.
Finally, we will take a cognitive — yet rational — journey into the future, trying to imagine what the future of aviation will look like. We will be sure to take the past as a guide, but also take the present as a guidepost and project forward, to a place, not just one that is most desirable for the industry, but one that is most likely.
The importance of aviation within our society
“Man must rise above the Earth — to the top of the atmosphere and beyond — for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives” — Socrates
It is virtually impossible to deny the importance of modern aviation and flight in our society today. From transporting people and cargo, military activities, and space explorations, aviation is intricately interwoven into our entire lives. This seemingly ubiquitous existence of aviation is only approximately 60 years old, though it may seem longer.
In today’s society, the very concept of globalization would not be possible without aviation. This is made possible due to the abilities of aircraft to move people, goods, and services across borders with the level of efficiency we have never had before. Along with telecommunication and the Internet — which provide the virtual backdrop for globalization — air travel — the backbone of globalization as we know it — has completely transformed the world as we know it.
Aviation has further solidified its dominance in globalization by being more and more efficient each year. With faster, more efficient aircraft, greater efficiency in airline operations, leading to lower and lower cost of trading and in moving goods around the world, this leads to more and more people, goods, and services moving around the world each year. While this is no doubt a very wonderful thing for the world, it is obvious that in its very strength is a weakness that can have adverse effects if the overall system of aviation breaks down.
In 2001 the industry was rocked by what was considered its greatest challenge to that date that was external to the industry that reverberated through it due to its somewhat internal fragility. Bouncing back from the external attacks of 2001, seven years later it was ravaged once more by a global Great Recession. Through various consolidations and restructuring, it thrived again through December 2019. Between December 2019 and March 2020, the industry was once again brought to its knees by the greatest global pandemic since the 1918’s “Spanish Flu”. Now in 2022, the industry is trying to pick up the pieces from the pandemic, however, most would argue that it is not out of the woods just yet.
Aviation is the main driver behind globalization, driving the development of the modern world. A network of airlines, airports, and air traffic management organizations link the major cities and small communities of the world 24 hours a day with increasingly advanced aircraft. Aviation supports 65.5 million jobs worldwide and enables $12.7 trillion in global GDP. It allows people to have adventures in new countries, to relax on tropical beaches, to build business relationships, and to visit friends and family. As our global economy grows ever more linked, aviation is the factor that brings people together. (Air Transport Action Group, 2020)
Thank you for reading this week’s On Aviation™ mini book series, Aviation — From Instability To Disaster. Please stay tuned for the next chapter. While you wait. What are some trends that you see that are affecting the aviation industry in unexpected ways?
Orlando — On Aviation™