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Aviation Today- Level 1

General Aviation

For many years small airplanes were used for recreation and pleasure almost exclusively. In the gradual evolution of the uses of the airplane, the awareness of its use as a business tool became more pronounced. However, until 1932, small airplanes had open cockpits and poor weather restricted their use. In 1932 the first Beechcraft Staggerwing was built and was distinctive for its enclosed cabin, staggered wings and high performance engine. With this airplane Walter H. Beech launched the Beech Aircraft Corporation. The airplane as a business tool now comprises approximately 70% of all flying. Widely used for business purposes and in continuous production since 1945, the Beechcraft Bonanza has been one of the most popular and reliable airplanes in the industry. The Beechcraft Super King Air 200 is used almost exclusively for business purposes.

Beechcraft's latest biz-jet, the Starship 1

Commercial Aviation

Today, commercial aviation is dominated by two aircraft manufacturers...Boeing Aircraft Corporation and Airbus Corporation. The latest designs being produced carry more passengers/freight, burn less fuel, and are quieter than previous planes. Research is being conducted to produce an airliner that will fly at hypersonic speeds, (as much as 5 times the speed of sound).

Boeing's 757 commercial jetliner

Military Aviation

Stealth, speed, and maneuverability are the watch-words of today's military aircraft designers. Stealth technology is making it difficult for the opponents to detect our aircraft today. New materials permit the building of jet engines that operate at higher temperatures, thus producing more power and speed for a given weight. Computer-controlled flight systems along with innovations such as vectored-thrust (i.e. redirecting the jet engine's exhaust off the centerline axis of the plane) allow today's fighters perform tight maneuvers impossible just a short time ago.

The military's newest fighter, the F-22 Raptor, manufactured by the Lockheed Boeing team

Summary

Contemporary airplanes fall into three broad categories: general aviation, commercial and military. Each is designed around its basic function: personal and business flying, passenger service and defense. Modern flight is the result of the efforts of thousands of people over a very long period of time and is in a constant state of evolution.


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Updated: June 16, 2010