The happenstance confluence, which occurred on the 1st day of 2014, created some fascinating insights into an industry in transition. The two articles:
- USAToday published a prospective of 10 airlines’ look forward at commercial aviation at 5, 25 and 100 year milestones;
- a Travel News retrospective of that same business on its 100th anniversary both published on the 1st day of 2014.
The precipitant for the historical piece was the 1914 actions of Percival Fansler, Thomas Benoist, Tony Jannus and Abram Pheil who were involved in the first scheduled commercial airline flight, the St. Petersburg-Tampa across the intervening body of water. To put that event in context, the writer consulted IATA, the global airline association. Its executive director recited a pantheon of impressive statistics, which define the current state of that business’ safety. He also emphasized the future’s drive toward sustainability, inferring the great challenges to make an already green venture become greener.
The USAToday writer contacted some of the most visible air carrier leaders and asked them for their prognoses at waypoints out into the unknown. Curiously, none mentioned safety enhancements expected in any of those time frames. Equally, there were no references to advanced technological developments reducing noise or emissions. There was one casual hint on the expectations as to UAVs, one of the hottest topics of the past few months. The death of RJs, even more consolidation, increased automation/lower costs, faster/supersonic, greater direct flights and even increased fares are somewhat myopically mentioned.
Perhaps the CEOs of today’s operators are so focused on their competitive environment that they do not have the time or vision to forecast major sea changes like Jeff Bezos’ projection of the use of drones for Amazon’s delivery system. Then again, had one of the 1914 pioneers told reporters, upon landing in Tampa, that massive planes would carry billions of passengers around the globe, that savant might have spent time explaining his prediction to a mental health professionals.
Drawing a straight line from the aviation way points of the recent past does create a path limited only by imagination, but that trajectory will not, cannot be achieved unless each safety professional performs her/his job with excellence!Share this article: