Upcoming Changes in Aviation in 2020
2019 was such an up and down year for aviation. On one front, the ever-increasing traffic numbers meant that airlines and even airports had to expand capacity to accommodate more passengers, resulting in record revenues and profits.
On the flip side, a few highly publicized issues left a lingering cloud over the aviation industry. The ongoing China-US trade wars continue to leave manufacturers in significant distress. with ongoing orders and sales seriously affected. At Boeing, the 737 MAX crashes, the grounding of all 737 Max planes and ultimate discovery that faulty software was the cause of the crashes and loss of hundreds of lives was a huge black mark on the safety and integrity of the aviation industry.
2020, a Rebound Year for Aviation
While it’s impossible to predict the events of an entire calendar year, experts foresee a change of fortunes for the industry in 2020. The following are just a few examples of what you can expect in 2020.
- The return of Boeing 737 Max
Although the exact return date for the 737 Max isn’t known yet, it’s almost certainly going to be early 2020. Boeing has rectified the mistakes that caused the Indonesian and Ethiopian crashes. The company recently announced that it has “redesigned how the airplane’s angle of attack sensors work
. and that the software solution has been evaluated by the FAA in a flight simulator. This means that the return of the Boeing 737 MAX is closer than ever before. American Airlines, for instance, has stated that they expect the 737 Max planes to be airborne again by April 7, 2020.
- The emergence of new US airline(s)
Currently, the US aviation industry is dominated by three big networks – Delta, American, and United. Together, these three airlines control nearly 80% of the domestic flight industry. A few players feel that the monopoly isn’t good and, as such, are working on plans to introduce new airlines. Two such players are David Neeleman, founder of Jetblue, and Allegiant President Andrew Levy. Levy hopes to introduce a new charter line known as XTRA Airlines in 2020.
- Space flight becomes a thing
For a few years now, different airlines have been looking into the possibility of flying commercial passengers into space for tourism and vacations. Virgin Galactic, for instance, launched its first test passenger flight into space in 2019. Expect the trend to continue into 2020. Virgin Galactic is already offering suborbital spaceflights for passengers at $250,000 per ticket. As the year wears on, more and more airlines will consider getting into the game.
- Project Sunrise takes off proper
Qantas’ goal of flying passengers non-stop from the East Coast of Australia to London, Paris, and New York (dubbed Project Sunrise) is another milestone to look forward to in 2020. The airline concluded its final light-load test program on Wednesday 18, December 2019 with a 19 ½ -hour flight from the JKF airport in New York to Sydney. Now, the stage is set for full-load tests. Expect the airline to make a major announcement regarding the project by March 2020.
- Single-pilot cockpit tests
Several pilot associations, including the European Cockpit Association (ECA) and the Air Lines Pilots Association (ALPA), have raised concerns about the dangers of reducing the number of pilots in the cockpit. But it seems airlines aren’t taking no for an answer. Earlier in May 2019, for example, some airlines were even urging Boeing to make the 797, a New Midsize Airplane (NMA), a single-pilot aircraft. It doesn’t look like Boeing will heed that call, just yet. But, experts believe that there will be tests on the same over the year.
There are many other ways aviation is likely to change in 2020, with the growth of biometrics (especially in airport security), the introduction of robotic assistants, and the launch of the Boeing 777X all being possibilities.