The 2011 Aviation Special Report pays tribute to the spirit of invention that has made the commercial aviation industry grow and change over the past 100 years — and will drive it onward into the next.
From the Wright brothers' simple shed on Kill Devil Hills to today's complex hangar and maintenance facilities, the first century of commercial airports witnessed steady growth and advances in aircraft maintenance and safety reliability.
When commercial flights began to take off, convenience of passengers wasn't much of a concern. Simply getting them from point A to point B was a feat in and of itself.
More airport innovation has occurred in past 10 to 15 years than in the previous 80 to 90 years. The possibilities are only limited by our ability to innovate the ultimate passenger experience.
One airport that can certainly lay claim to being first commercial airport was Le Bourget near Paris. In the United States, the Newark International Airport has grounds to make its declaration.
Kansas was the first state to create an airspace tool for public use, the Kansas Airspace Awareness Tool, which went from concept to reality in less than eight months by utilizing unorthodox testing procedures and innovative outreach and training.
Burns & McDonnell works with airports across the country, especially those in earthquake-prone areas, to help plan for earthquakes and mitigate the damage they can cause, especially to the fuel systems and fuel farms that pose great potential risk.
The commercial airport was still a novelty in the 1940s. It wasn't until later in the century, when commercial flights became more economically feasible for more passengers, that the airport concessions industry became a viable business.
Any runway change requires a team with experience and understanding of how the facilities interact with pilots in flight, providing the necessary facilities, runways, taxiways, lighting, pavement markings and safety features to protect the public and the investment of airlines and communities.
The innovations of a century of commercial airports are a testament to the hold it has over business executives, engineers and the traveling public alike.
By combining traditional methods with increasing uses of today's technology, airports save time and money on pavement management programs. We prepare grant requests and match needed improvements with solutions that work with grant timelines and restraints.
A look at the events and milestones that shaped a century of commercial airport development.