Commercial aviation celebrates 100th anniversary

Yesterday marked the centennial of commercial aviation, and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has invited everyone interested in aviation to join a year-long celebration of the 100th anniversary.

The celebrations will include debates and discussions on what needs to happen to make the next 100 years even more momentous.

On January 1, 1914, a team of four visionaries – Percival Fansler, Thomas Benoist, Tony Jannus and Abram Pheil – came together to organise the first scheduled commercial airline flight, the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat across Tampa Bay, Florida.

Beginning with only one passenger on one route on January 1, 1914, today the global aviation industry provides unprecedented connectivity, positively impacting on lives of people across the world.

To cite key statistics:

On average, every day more than 8 million people fly. In 2013 total passenger numbers were 3.1 billion, surpassing the 3 billion mark for the first time ever. That number is expected to grow to 3.3 billion in 2014, almost 44 percent of the world’s population.

About 50 million tonnes of cargo is transported by air each year (about 140,000 tonnes daily). The annual value of these goods is some $6.4 trillion, or 35 percent of the value of goods traded internationally.

Aviation supports over 57 million jobs and generates $2.2 trillion in economic activity, and the global airline industry turnover is expected to be $743bn in 2014.

Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO, said: ‘Over the last century, commercial aviation has transformed the world in ways unimaginable in 1914. The first flight provided a short-cut across Tampa Bay. Today the aviation industry re-unites loved ones, connects cultures, expands minds, opens markets, and fosters development. Aviation provides people around the globe with the freedom to make connections that can change their lives and the world.

‘Aviation is a force for good. And the potential of commercial flight to keep changing the world for the better is almost unlimited. Aviation has always been a team effort. Growing and sustainably spreading the benefits of connectivity will require the industry, governments, regulators and local communities keep true to the ‘all-in-it-together’ ethos that was the bedrock of that pioneering first flight. And we should be guided by the long-term interests of all whose lives are positively transformed by commercial aviation every day.’

Tyler added, ‘A hundred years is something worth celebrating. And we look forward to creating an equally remarkable legacy for commercial aviation’s second century.’

To host the centennial celebration, a website ( was launched on January 1, 2014. In addition to providing reference materials, the website will also be an interactive information hub, depicting the value that commercial aviation provides from personal, economic and other perspectives.

Watchdog investigate Ryanair over £10 charges for emergency exit seats

Budget Airline Ryanair are currently being investigated by safety watchdogs after passengers were made to pay an extra £10 charge so they could sit in seats by emergency exits.

The popular seats offer more legroom for travellers, however the seats located next to the emergency exits have been left empty on hundreds of flights after travellers refused to pay the added cost.

Ryanair passengers buying standard seats are told that they can sit anywhere on the plane apart from the first four rows and the emergency exit rows in the centre.

However passengers in standard seats are still expected to be able to follow directions on the emergency procedures.

The Irish Aviation Authority and UK regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), have launched an investigation into the airline. Suggesting that Ryanair should look at its policy as the issue is described as a ‘grey area’.

The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) has also questioned safety issues on board.

One passenger on a Ryanair flight said that he was asked to make sure that he was aware of how to open a door that he was unable to see.

“I wasn’t allowed to sit in the emergency exit row so I sat in the window seat in the row in front. Before take-off, one of the cabin crew spoke to me, and another passenger who was in the aisle seat.

“Basically, she was saying that, since we were the closest to the emergency exit, we’d have to make sure we’d read and understood the instructions for opening the doors in the middle of the plane in an emergency”.

Adding: “She said emergency row seats could only be used by people who had paid extra. It just seemed ludicrous and mean-spirited.

Stephen McNamara, the head of communications at Ryanair said: “We do not believe this to be an issue, as all Ryanair passengers are provided with the same safety and evacuation information.

“We will continue to discuss the matter with the IAA”.

Article by Charlotte Greenhalgh

Slovenia pilot on round the world flight stops off in Antarctica

Slovenian pilot Matevz Lenarcic has been flying his Virus SW, an ultra-light plane made by Slovenian manufacturer, Pipistrel, around the world for over a month now.

He intends to circle the world with the lowest possible carbon dioxide emission for a trip of this magnitude. On his way from Slovenia, a Central European country at the juncture of the Alps and the Mediterranean, he has already flown over the Atlantic, landed in North Africa; South, Central, and North America; and on Thursday he landed in Antarctica, which along with Mount Everest, represents the greatest challenge of his journey.

Pilot Matevz Lenarcic set off on his journey from Slovenia on January 8, 2012. On his journey around the world, he will visit over 50 countries and fly over the equator 6 times, altogether covering almost 100,000 kilometers (62,000 miles).

Weighing merely 290 kilos (640 pounds), his plane, which uses a minimum amount of fuel, was constructed by the Slovenian manufacturer, Pipistrel, a recurrent winner of the NASA award for top energy-efficient planes.

The Virus-SW914 ultra-light plane can fly 4,000 kilometers (2,485 miles) with 350 liters (92 gallons) of fuel and flies mostly at an altitude of 3,500 meters (11,483 feet), where fuel consumption is lowest. During the flight, the plane is able to perform measurements of black carbon, the greatest greenhouse agent next to carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere. These readings will contribute significantly to our understanding of the greenhouse effect and will be carried out for the first time ever in many locations.

Environment protection and care for sustainable development is a priority policy in the tourist development of Slovenia, from where the brave pilot hails. It is a small, yet diverse country at the meeting point of the Alps and the Mediterranean, with unspoiled nature and extraordinary natural heritage. Green, with which Slovenia presents itself to the world, in addition to its commitment to responsible tourism, also reflects the fact that around 65 percent of Slovenia’s surface is covered with forest, which places our country among the top three most forested countries in Europe.

You can follow the pilot Matevz Lenarcic at, where his team has been regularly posting his impressions about the journey and photographs taken during the flight.

One in four have ‘smuggled’ liquids through airport security

A survey by flight comparison site Skyscanner has revealed that 28 per cent of travellers have attempted to carry liquids past airport security checkpoints, both accidently and deliberately.


This is despite the longstanding ban of passengers carrying liquid containers bigger than 100 millilitres.


A thousand people were surveyed as part of the poll, where only four per cent of those questioned admitted to purposely placing liquids in their hand luggage breaking the rules. However 42 per cent believe that the current legislation is too severe.


Of those surveyed, eighteen per cent complained that airports have an inconsistent approach when it comes to enforcing the regulations.


These harsher laws came into force in August 2006, following a terrorist plot where liquid explosives were smuggled aboard in hand luggage in attempt to blow up at least 10 transatlantic flights.


This introduced an immediate ban on carrying liquids onto aircrafts, since then the ban has been subsequently relaxed allowing passengers to carry liquids in containers no larger than 100ml, and five years on the rules remain largely in force.


European Union transport commissioner Siim Kallas confirmed the ban will be lifted in April 2013. This comes after trialling new advanced X-ray scanners that can identify liquid explosives.


Kallas told The Guardian: “Some airports are questioning the rationality of lifting the ban because life is easier as it is. Politically, that is unacceptable. I would like airports to make (the) necessary investments so we can lift the ban as agreed for transfer passengers”.


He added, “If some countries lift the band and some do not, it will be disastrous”.


By Charlotte Greenhalgh