How WWII Catapulted the Demand for Civil Air Transport

Before World War II, flying was a luxury only a few could afford. But like many things during WWII, the aviation industry was forced to undergo drastic forced evolution to meet the needs of a global war effort.

The federal government had done a number on airlines financially in order to sustain the war effort, breaking up company giants and cutting their connections to subsidiaries. At the same time, these companies were integral to the war and found new purpose with the Air Transports Association. Airlines worked closely with the military to coordinate the transport of cargo and personnel nationally and worldwide. Pilots were essential in organizing regularly scheduled flights over long distances.

The federal government was offering bonuses to airlines if their aircraft could fly at night or had multiple engines and two-way radios, ensuring that transport was safe and efficient. Government-funded incentivization for modernization led to a rapid adoption of a variety of safety and functionality improvements that would go on to make post-war airlines more effective and reliable.

At the end of the war, surplus military planes were being repurposed for civilian use, but most wouldn’t meet the capacity or functional needs of a modern passenger-focused aviation industry. However, the airplane production capacity didn’t disappear overnight, and the labor expertise in manufacturing and maintenance, along with many design improvements, allowed for a fairly smooth handover to civilian aviation.

The Preliminary Modern Aircrafts WWII Helped Produce

Released in the middle of the brief peace between the end of WWI and the U.S.’s entrance into WWII, the first major airliner – the Boeing 247 – could carry ten passengers and travel coast to coast in less than 20 hours. Shortly thereafter, Douglas Aircraft responded with the DC-1, which could carry 12 passengers comfortably and travel faster. They also produced the larger, nighttime version with the DC-2 and the daytime version with the DC-3 that could cross the nation in less than 16 hours and offered sleeping accommodations for passengers.

Finally, the Boeing 307 Stratoliner was built, the first-ever pressurized airliner. This plane was the first to be able to ascend above the clouds, cruising at 25,000 feet while every other plane couldn’t safely fly above 10,000 feet. Because it could rise above tumultuous weather conditions, it could fly faster while providing a smoother and more comfortable flying experience for passengers.

Many of the pre-war aviation innovations of the time, like lightweight radio transmitters and cabin pressurization, were incorporated into some bombers and fighters. For example, the inclusion of radio allowed pilots to navigate by following radio signals transmitted from their destination, which starkly contrasted with the dead reckoning navigation method it replaced, which required heavy calculations and measurements in order to plot a course.

The End of the War and the Beginning of Civil Air Travel

When the war ended, the advancements in the speed, range and efficiency of air travel were applied to commercial aviation, laying the groundwork for civil air travel as we know it today. Profitable transcontinental routes and optimized cabin comfort helped make civil air transport more accessible and attractive to flyers, as did the domestic economic recovery after the war.

The DC-4, the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser and other large, four-engine airliners were produced with many innovations, like better range, flight controls and navigation systems, enhancing the performance of commercial planes and soon becoming the norm in passenger carriers.

After the novelty of easy commercial air travel wore off, consumers began seeking out airlines that offered a more comfortable and enjoyable travel experience. This shift in expectations has grown over the years, paving the way for modern in-flight entertainment technology that makes traveling even more comfortable and relaxing. Rosen Aviation has been leading the industry for more than 40 years, developing state-of-the-art cabin solutions to ensure passengers are never bored during their flight.

Trust Experts Who’ve Been Continually Innovating and Pushing IFE Technology Forward

At Rosen Aviation, we’ll ensure your aircraft is leading the pack in design and innovation. Our team will design and engineer customized IFE technology tailored to your aircraft that will ensure your flyers stay safe, comfortable and entertained throughout their entire flight.

Call us at 1-888-668-4955 or send us a message to learn more about our cutting-edge cabin entertainment solutions and how they can maximize your passengers’ enjoyment.