January 4, 2009

Flight at 100; The Next 100 Years

Flight Global:
Flight's first editor Stanley Spooner had little trouble deciding what story would be the lead in our inaugural issue 100 years ago - "A Second Englishman Flies" was our first headline. But back in those pioneering early days, what would Spooner have predicted for the top aerospace story a century later? Even the most enthusiastic aeronauts and aviators in 1909 would have struggled to believe the way in which powered flight would evolve during the magazine's first 100 years: that the aeroplane would be "going to war" within five years that passengers would be travelling in shirtsleeve comfort across the Atlantic at twice the speed of sound within 70 years or that within 80 years a winged spaceplane would be regularly blasting into orbit and returning to earth as a glider.

Predicting what lies in store over the next 100 years of aviation is just as challenging. The framework for the near term (the next 20 or 30 years) is already in place, with new airliner programmes such as the Airbus A350, A380 and Boeing 787 and military aircraft like the Lockheed Martin F-22, F-35A Joint Strike Fighter and Eurofighter Typhoon set to be with us well into the first half of the century. But surely some of the exciting new technology currently in the minds of the industry's boffins will lead to more imaginative creations appearing in the longer term?

There are some fundamental questions that must be answered when examining likely scenarios 50 to 100 years from now: how much oil will be left and how much will it cost? Will the green lobby - and any increasing evidence of serious climate change - have forced the way we travel by air to have to be reinvented? How will the threats to world security/peace influence military aircraft design? And how much of the space exploration dream will have become a reality?
Posted by James Zellmer at January 4, 2009 9:35 PM | Subscribe to this site via RSS:
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