One of aviation’s greatest mysteries had a stunning cause. Its legacy was equally troubling.

“Maintain flight level 350 (35,000 feet),” instructed air traffic control.

“Ok, will do,” Captain Marc Dubois replied. For now, no further communication was expected.

Fourteen minutes later, Air France flight 447 flew out of radar coverage, heading northeast over the Atlantic Ocean away from the coast of Brazil. Such instances are not uncommon on long overwater flights. The time was 1:49 a.m.

Two hours passed. On the other side of the Atlantic in Dakar, Senegal, air traffic controllers waited for flight 447 to show up on their screens as planned. It did not. They attempted to contact the aircraft.


The Airbus A320 became the best-selling airliner in the world. This is its story.

The Airbus A320. (Image source: Author’s work)

The world of commercial aviation today is dominated by two main aircraft types: the Boeing 737 and the Airbus A320, together comprising more than half of all aircraft in the skies. This has not always been the case, however. For more than 20 years, the 737 ruled the industry, and was a seemingly omnipresent figure at airports large and small around the world. When Airbus decided to challenge the 737 head-on in 1984, sceptics abound. The mighty 737 had seemed impervious to competition throughout its operational history. There was simply no way that a scrappy European consortium which had delivered…

The second wide-body to enter service never achieved the glory and success of the first.

In 1970, commercial aviation teetered on the brink of transformation. The Boeing 747 “Jumbo Jet” had just entered service in January, carrying two and a half times as many passengers as the largest existing airliners, and promised to bring affordable air travel to the masses. By the end of July, Boeing’s main rival decided it was time to unveil their challenger to the famed jumbo.

The DC-10 rolls out on July 23, 1970 at Long Beach, California. (Image source: Boeing)

Four years earlier, in 1966, development of the Boeing 747 was well underway. Despite it primarily being a request from Pan American World Airways, the new large aircraft was soon garnering the interest of many…

In 1970, the Boeing 747 made its first passenger flight. No one would have imagined its impact on air travel half a century later.

In the early morning of January 22, 1970, 335 passengers boarded Pan American World Airways Flight 2 at Terminal 3 of John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, bound for Heathrow Airport in London. The flight had been scheduled to depart the night before and by this point was over 6 hours behind schedule, but any irritation on that score would have been largely offset by the excitement of the historic nature of this flight — this was the first passenger flight of Boeing’s latest aircraft model, the Boeing 747. …

Yeoh Lik Hern

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