By: Brian Roulston
Man has dreamed about flying with the birds since the beginning of time. Many unsuccessful attempts were made until the Wright Bros finally achieved that elusive dream on December 17th, 1903 when they flew the first controlled powered flight over the sand dunes of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.That first flight only lasted 12 seconds, That twelve seconds changed the world as we knew it at the time.
International Civil Aviation Day was first celebrated in 1996 in all countries under the United Nation’s umbrella.
Aviation has helped win wars, flown sick and injured people to safety, airlifted packages, heavy cargo and aid to some of the most remote places on the planet. Every day planes carry people to destinations all around the globe for work or pleasure.
If aviation were a country its GDP would be about the size of Switzerland which ranks 21st in the world’s economy. Aviation supports 62.7 million jobs world wide
International Civil Aviation Day recognizes and celebrates air traffic controllers who help guide the planes safely from point A to point B, both in the air and on the ground. Also Airport Management Authorities that oversee snow removal, ground and terminal maintenance, airlines like Air Canada or West Jet. Aircraft manufactures such as Airbus, Boeing and Bombardier are acknowledged as well.Don’t forget aircraft mechanics who fix and maintain these big birds.
This is a day to remember the lives lost in aviation disasters such as the 9/11 terror attacks or when two fully loaded Pan Am and KLM Jumbo Jets collided on a fog shrouded runway killing all 500+ passengers and crew on board that day; March 27th 1977 on the Canary Islands.
Annually on December 7th we can reflect on the positives too; where many or all of the passengers escaped such fate like the Hudson River landing on January 15,2009 after hitting a flock of Canada geese killing both engines or when a fuel feed pipe stub broke off inside one of the engines of an Australian Airbus 380 Super Jumbo, spewing fuel over a fiery hot engine. The engine blew up sending shrapnel through vital aircraft organs which led to over 300 aircraft malfunctions.Most pilots are trained to handle 3 or 4 such incidents at one time a more likely scenario, fortunately with the skills of an exceptionally well trained crew on board the plane that day, a total disaster was averted.
International Civil Aviation Day also reminds us that much more work is needed. We must also ensure that no countries are left behind with new technology to help minimize congestion in the air and on the ground. This can lead to minimizing fuel waste and passenger on-board times. As well, a wider use of Sustainable Alternative Jet Fuels that can cut aviation carbon emissions significantly. Sustainable Alternative Jet Fuels can use all present supply transport infrastructures, mix easily with conventional jet fuels and do not require costly upgrades to airplanes big or small. Today Sustainable Alternative Jet Fuels which are renewable plant based fuels are the only certified low carbon jet fuels available today for aviation in both the short and long term.