These last three years have possibly been the worst humans have faced in a while. We’ve had a global pandemic, climate change becoming increasingly evident, deaths of monarchs, changes of leaders, protests, movements, stock market crashes, and the list goes on and on. But how do these affect what aviation in 2023 will be?
The COVID-19 Pandemic
I hate to start on a bore, but this topic is unavoidable in the future of aviation. In 2020 and 2021, aviation was at a standstill, with thousands of planes being stored in the desert and other airlines retiring the most significant sections of their fleet. COVID-19 bought forward the Boeing 747 and is making the end of the Airbus A380 come sooner as well. In 2022, we saw aviation returning to normal again, with airlines now being able to decide on their own if they wanted passengers to wear face masks, and numbers were rising. But the big question is, will the industry likely return to normal in 2023?
READ: Airbus A380s’ Retirement
Well, the short answer is Not quite. Eurocontrol’s analysis paper stated that it thought that aviation levels would return to 92% of their pre-pandemic by the year’s end. They said that it was likely that Aviation would return to normality by 2025. However, as much as we want it to not, the pandemic still exists. We see estimates of thousands of deaths in China every day. Could the record-breaking levels of the virus affect Aviation once again? This all depends on the government’s decisions in different countries.
For instance, in the UK, our government, in recent times, has taken an approach to letting it all happen and hopes that we all become immune to it. This is a decision, and if you ask me, rightly, criticized by others. However, other countries, such as New Zealand, have decided to block off all travel, which comes with catastrophic damage to the industry. Many countries are taking this approach towards China, which could lead to another episode where the sector is damaged.
Suppose you, like a fair few avgeeks, follow airlines on social media. In that case, you will notice how lots of them are talking about the arrival of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (or SAF) onto the aviation scene. With more and more airlines making pledges about their aircraft’s sustainability, we will probably see a fair few more airlines start using this on their flights.
As for the future of Electric aviation, one concept is taking off (excuse the joke), eVTOL aircraft. In the Year 2022, Lilium, an eVTOL manufacturer whose design is similar to the Boeing V-22 Osprey, achieved full rotation of both wings during a test flight. This is groundbreaking news for the future of electric aviation. However, this was only for a short time, so this will likely be developed during 2023.
Aircraft news this year is most likely to come from China, with their leading aerospace manufacturer Comac having entered the scene in recent years. Their new aircraft, the Comac C919, is expected to begin passenger service in 2023. However, with China’s COVID-19 problems, this might only happen later. It’s meant to compete with the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320, although many people are already saying it only provides a little of a different experience. In other aircraft news, Airlines should continue receiving deliveries of Boeing and Airbus aircraft, with the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft still attempting to catch up on time lost due to its grounding.
All in all, 2023 looks like a promising year in Aviation. Although some might say that’s what we thought about 2020, we have to keep our fingers crossed for now.