Aviation is the practical aspect or art of aeronautics, being the
design, development, production, operation and use of aircraft,
especially heavier-than-air aircraft.
2.1 Early beginnings
2.2 Lighter than air
2.3 Heavier than air
3 Operations of aircraft
3.1 Civil aviation
3.1.1 Air transport
3.1.2 General aviation
3.2 Military aviation
3.2.1 Types of military aviation
3.3 Air safety
Aviation accidents and incidents
5 Air traffic control
6 Environmental impact
7 See also
10 External links
The word aviation was coined by the French writer and former naval
officer Gabriel La Landelle in 1863. He derived the term from the
verb avier (an unsuccessful neologism for "to fly"), itself derived
from the Latin word avis ("bird") and the suffix -ation.
Main article: History of aviation
There are early legends of human flight such as the stories of Icarus
in Greek myth and
Shah Kay Kāvus in Persian myth.
Later, somewhat more credible claims of short-distance human flights
appear, such as the flying automaton of
Archytas of Tarentum
(428–347 BC), the winged flights of
Abbas Ibn Firnas (810–887),
Eilmer of Malmesbury
Eilmer of Malmesbury (11th century), and the hot-air Passarola of
Bartholomeu Lourenço de Gusmão
Bartholomeu Lourenço de Gusmão (1685–1724).
Lighter than air
LZ 129 Hindenburg
LZ 129 Hindenburg at Lakehurst Naval Air Station, 1936
The modern age of aviation began with the first untethered human
lighter-than-air flight on November 21, 1783, of a hot air balloon
designed by the Montgolfier brothers. The practicality of balloons was
limited because they could only travel downwind. It was immediately
recognized that a steerable, or dirigible, balloon was required.
Jean-Pierre Blanchard flew the first human-powered dirigible in 1784
and crossed the English Channel in one in 1785.
Rigid airships became the first aircraft to transport passengers and
cargo over great distances. The best known aircraft of this type were
manufactured by the German
The most successful
Zeppelin was the Graf Zeppelin. It flew over one
million miles, including an around-the-world flight in August 1929.
However, the dominance of the Zeppelins over the airplanes of that
period, which had a range of only a few hundred miles, was diminishing
as airplane design advanced. The "Golden Age" of the airships ended on
May 6, 1937 when the Hindenburg caught fire, killing 36 people. The
cause of the Hindenburg accident was initially blamed on the use of
hydrogen instead of helium as the lift gas. An internal investigation
by the manufacturer revealed that the coating used in the material
covering the frame was highly flammable and allowed static electricity
to build up in the airship. Changes to the coating formulation
reduced the risk of further Hindenburg type accidents. Although there
have been periodic initiatives to revive their use, airships have seen
only niche application since that time.
Heavier than air
Sir George Cayley
Sir George Cayley set forth the concept of the modern
airplane as a fixed-wing flying machine with separate systems for
lift, propulsion, and control. Early dirigible developments
included machine-powered propulsion (Henri Giffard, 1852), rigid
frames (David Schwarz, 1896) and improved speed and maneuverability
(Alberto Santos-Dumont, 1901)
First powered and controlled flight by the Wright Brothers, December
There are many competing claims for the earliest powered,
heavier-than-air flight. The first recorded powered flight was carried
Clément Ader on October 9, 1890 in his bat-winged, fully
self-propelled fixed-wing aircraft, the Ader Éole. It was reportedly
the first manned, powered, heavier-than-air flight of a significant
distance (50 m (160 ft)) but insignificant altitude from
level ground.  Seven years later, on 14 October 1897, Ader's
Avion III was tested without success in front of two officials from
the French War ministry. The report on the trials was not publicized
until 1910, as they had been a military secret. In November 1906 Ader
claimed to have made a successful flight on 14 October 1897, achieving
an "uninterrupted flight" of around 300 metres (980 feet). Although
widely believed at the time, these claims were later
Wright brothers made the first successful powered, controlled and
sustained airplane flight on December 17, 1903, a feat made possible
by their invention of three-axis control. Only a decade later, at the
start of World War I, heavier-than-air powered aircraft had become
practical for reconnaissance, artillery spotting, and even attacks
against ground positions.
Aircraft began to transport people and cargo as designs grew larger
and more reliable. The
Wright brothers took aloft the first passenger,
Charles Furnas, one of their mechanics, on May 14, 1908.
During the 1920s and 1930s great progress was made in the field of
aviation, including the first transatlantic flight of Alcock and Brown
in 1919, Charles Lindbergh's solo transatlantic flight in 1927, and
Charles Kingsford Smith's transpacific flight the following year. One
of the most successful designs of this period was the Douglas DC-3,
which became the first airliner to be profitable carrying passengers
exclusively, starting the modern era of passenger airline service. By
the beginning of World War II, many towns and cities had built
airports, and there were numerous qualified pilots available. The war
brought many innovations to aviation, including the first jet aircraft
and the first liquid-fueled rockets.
NASA's Helios researches solar powered flight.
After World War II, especially in North America, there was a boom in
general aviation, both private and commercial, as thousands of pilots
were released from military service and many inexpensive war-surplus
transport and training aircraft became available. Manufacturers such
as Cessna, Piper, and
Beechcraft expanded production to provide light
aircraft for the new middle-class market.
By the 1950s, the development of civil jets grew, beginning with the
de Havilland Comet, though the first widely used passenger jet was the
Boeing 707, because it was much more economical than other aircraft at
that time. At the same time, turboprop propulsion began to appear for
smaller commuter planes, making it possible to serve small-volume
routes in a much wider range of weather conditions.
Since the 1960s composite material airframes and quieter, more
efficient engines have become available, and
supersonic passenger service for more than two decades, but the most
important lasting innovations have taken place in instrumentation and
control. The arrival of solid-state electronics, the Global
Positioning System, satellite communications, and increasingly small
and powerful computers and LED displays, have dramatically changed the
cockpits of airliners and, increasingly, of smaller aircraft as well.
Pilots can navigate much more accurately and view terrain,
obstructions, and other nearby aircraft on a map or through synthetic
vision, even at night or in low visibility.
On June 21, 2004, SpaceShipOne became the first privately funded
aircraft to make a spaceflight, opening the possibility of an aviation
market capable of leaving the Earth's atmosphere. Meanwhile, flying
prototypes of aircraft powered by alternative fuels, such as ethanol,
electricity, and even solar energy, are becoming more common.
Operations of aircraft
Main article: Civil aviation
Civil aviation includes all non-military flying, both general aviation
and scheduled air transport.
Main article: Airline
There are five major manufacturers of civil transport aircraft (in
Airbus, based in Europe
Boeing, based in the United States
Bombardier, based in Canada
Embraer, based in Brazil
Aircraft Corporation, based in Russia
Tupolev concentrate on wide-body and
narrow-body jet airliners, while Bombardier,
Embraer and Sukhoi
concentrate on regional airliners. Large networks of specialized parts
suppliers from around the world support these manufacturers, who
sometimes provide only the initial design and final assembly in their
own plants. The Chinese
ACAC consortium will also soon enter the civil
transport market with its
Comac ARJ21 regional jet.
Until the 1970s, most major airlines were flag carriers, sponsored by
their governments and heavily protected from competition. Since then,
open skies agreements have resulted in increased competition and
choice for consumers, coupled with falling prices for airlines. The
combination of high fuel prices, low fares, high salaries, and crises
such as the
September 11, 2001 attacks
September 11, 2001 attacks and the SARS epidemic have
driven many older airlines to government-bailouts, bankruptcy or
mergers. At the same time, low-cost carriers such as Ryanair,
Westjet have flourished.
Main article: General aviation
General aviation includes all non-scheduled civil flying, both private
General aviation may include business flights, air
charter, private aviation, flight training, ballooning, parachuting,
gliding, hang gliding, aerial photography, foot-launched powered hang
gliders, air ambulance, crop dusting, charter flights, traffic
reporting, police air patrols and forest fire fighting.
Each country regulates aviation differently, but general aviation
usually falls under different regulations depending on whether it is
private or commercial and on the type of equipment involved.
Many small aircraft manufacturers serve the general aviation market,
with a focus on private aviation and flight training.
The most important recent developments for small aircraft (which form
the bulk of the GA fleet) have been the introduction of advanced
avionics (including GPS) that were formerly found only in large
airliners, and the introduction of composite materials to make small
aircraft lighter and faster. Ultralight and homebuilt aircraft have
also become increasingly popular for recreational use, since in most
countries that allow private aviation, they are much less expensive
and less heavily regulated than certified aircraft.
Military aviation and Aerial warfare
Simple balloons were used as surveillance aircraft as early as the
18th century. Over the years, military aircraft have been built to
meet ever increasing capability requirements. Manufacturers of
military aircraft compete for contracts to supply their government's
Aircraft are selected based on factors like cost,
performance, and the speed of production.
Lockheed SR-71 remains unsurpassed in many areas of performance.
Types of military aviation
Fighter aircraft's primary function is to destroy other aircraft.
(e.g. Sopwith Camel, A6M Zero, F-15, MiG-29, Su-27, and F-22).
Ground attack aircraft are used against tactical earth-bound targets.
(e.g. Junkers Stuka, A-10, Il-2, J-22 Orao,
AH-64 and Su-25).
Bombers are generally used against more strategic targets, such as
factories and oil fields. (e.g. Zeppelin, Tu-95, Mirage IV, and B-52).
Transport aircraft are used to transport hardware and personnel. (e.g.
C-17 Globemaster III,
C-130 Hercules and Mil Mi-26).
Surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft obtain information about
enemy forces. (e.g. Rumpler Taube, Mosquito, U-2, OH-58 and MiG-25R).
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are used primarily as reconnaissance
fixed-wing aircraft, though many also carry payloads. Cargo aircraft
are in development. (e.g. RQ-7B Shadow,
MQ-8 Fire Scout, and MQ-1C
Missiles deliver warheads, normally explosives, but also things like
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (November
Aviation accidents and incidents
Aviation accidents and incidents
A USAF Thunderbird pilot ejecting from his
F-16 aircraft at an airshow
An aviation accident is defined by the Convention on International
Aviation Annex 13 as an occurrence associated with the operation
of an aircraft which takes place between the time any person boards
the aircraft with the intention of flight until such time as all such
persons have disembarked, in which a person is fatally or seriously
injured, the aircraft sustains damage or structural failure or the
aircraft is missing or is completely inaccessible.
The first fatal aviation accident occurred in a Wright Model A
aircraft at Fort Myer, Virginia, USA, on September 17, 1908, resulting
in injury to the pilot, Orville Wright, and death of the passenger,
Signal Corps Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge.
An aviation incident is defined as an occurrence, other than an
accident, associated with the operation of an aircraft that affects or
could affect the safety of operations.
An accident in which the damage to the aircraft is such that it must
be written off, or in which the plane is destroyed, is called a hull
Air traffic control
Main article: Air traffic control
Air traffic control
Air traffic control towers at Amsterdam Airport
Air traffic control
Air traffic control (ATC) involves communication with aircraft to help
maintain separation – that is, they ensure that aircraft are
sufficiently far enough apart horizontally or vertically for no risk
of collision. Controllers may co-ordinate position reports provided by
pilots, or in high traffic areas (such as the United States) they may
use radar to see aircraft positions.
There are generally four different types of ATC:
center controllers, who control aircraft en route between airports
control towers (including tower, ground control, clearance delivery,
and other services), which control aircraft within a small distance
(typically 10–15 km horizontal, and 1,000 m vertical) of an
oceanic controllers, who control aircraft over international waters
between continents, generally without radar service.
terminal controllers, who control aircraft in a wider area (typically
50–80 km) around busy airports.
ATC is especially important for aircraft flying under instrument
flight rules (IFR), when they may be in weather conditions that do not
allow the pilots to see other aircraft. However, in very high-traffic
areas, especially near major airports, aircraft flying under visual
flight rules (VFR) are also required to follow instructions from ATC.
In addition to separation from other aircraft, ATC may provide weather
advisories, terrain separation, navigation assistance, and other
services to pilots, depending on their workload.
ATC do not control all flights. The majority of VFR flights in North
America are not required to contact ATC (unless they are passing
through a busy terminal area or using a major airport), and in many
areas, such as northern
Canada and low altitude in northern Scotland,
Air traffic control
Air traffic control services are not available even for IFR flights at
Main article: Environmental impact of aviation
Like all activities involving combustion, operating powered aircraft
(from airliners to hot air balloons) releases soot and other
pollutants into the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases such as carbon
dioxide (CO2) are also produced. In addition, there are environmental
impacts specific to aviation: for instance,
Water vapor contrails left by high-altitude jet airliners. These may
contribute to cirrus cloud formation.
Aircraft operating at high altitudes near the tropopause (mainly large
jet airliners) emit aerosols and leave contrails, both of which can
increase cirrus cloud formation – cloud cover may have
increased by up to 0.2% since the birth of aviation.
Aircraft operating at high altitudes near the tropopause can also
release chemicals that interact with greenhouse gases at those
altitudes, particularly nitrogen compounds, which interact with ozone,
increasing ozone concentrations.
Most light piston aircraft burn avgas, which contains tetraethyllead
(TEL). Some lower-compression piston engines can operate on unleaded
mogas, and turbine engines and diesel engines – neither of
which require lead – are appearing on some newer light
Another environmental impact of aviation is noise pollution, mainly
caused by aircraft taking off and landing.
Environmental impact of aviation
List of aviation topics
Timeline of aviation
Aviation ou Navigation aerienne par G. de La Landelle".
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