first commercial transatlantic flight

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Crossing the Atlantic has always been a magical experience, since the dawn of the age of exploration till today, made much easier with a quick hop across the pond in an aircraft. But what we consider today to be simple was not always easy, with the story to get to this point quite fascinating.

first commercial flight across the pacific

First Commercial Transatlantic Flight

Believe it or not, the first idea of crossing the Atlantic by air was in 1859 and was to be done by ballon! Many attempts were made, and one might have been successful if it was not for the start of the American Civil War.

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But it would not be for another 60 years until the end of World War I when people considered using biplanes instead.

First attempts (the 1910s)

Early aircraft engines did not have the reliability needed for the crossing, nor the power to lift the required fuel. But this didn’t stop the idea from capturing the public imagination. In fact, in 1913, London newspaper the Daily Mail offered a prize of £10,000 (£451,400 in 2019) for the first successful flight across the pond.

“The aviator who shall first cross the Atlantic in an airplane in flight from any point in the United States of America, Canada or Newfoundland and any point in Great Britain or Ireland in 72 continuous hours with one aircraft.” – The Daily Mail in 1913Advertisement:

Daily mail
The wager from the Daily Mail. Photo: Daily Mail

In May of 1919, the Curtiss seaplane NC-4 made the journey from the United States to New Foundland then to the Portuguese Azores before landing in Portugal and the United Kingdom. It took 23 days and six stops.

A month later, on the 14th June, the British aviators Alcock and Brown made the first non-stop transatlantic flight in a Vickers Vimy IV twin-engined bomber. They replaced the bomb racks with fuel tanks which carried 3,900 liters of fuel.

The headline from the day. Photo: Imperial War Museums

The flight took 16 hours and landed just outside of Galway in Ireland.

Commercial travel (the 1920s)

Obviously flying a World War I bomber was neither practical nor possible for passenger aircraft, and thus one company set out to provide an actual commercial passage across the sea.

And it might surprise you to know that balloons were used once again. From October 1928, vast rigid airships crossed the Atlantic from Germany to New York. However, in 1937 this fantasy with floating cruise ships ended with the Hindenburg and the R101 disasters.Advertisement:

The first planes, however, focused on South Atlantic travel, delivering mail from the Gambia in Africa to Brazil in South America, where the distance was the shortest.

First transatlantic airlines (the 1930s)

Imperial Airways was the first airline to investigate using the Short Empire sea plan to cross over from Ireland to the Americas in 1937. Not to be left out on this venture, Pan American flew the opposite way with a Sikorsky S-42. Both airlines would begin regular seaplane routes soon after.

This initial journey took 20 hrs, 21 min at an average ground speed of 144 miles per hour (232 km/h). The Short Empire seaplane didn’t actually have enough power to lift itself off the ground with the fuel needed for the journey, so it was actually carried by a bigger aircraft to the right height and then released.Advertisement:

Short Empire
The Short Empire. Photo: Imperial War Museums

On the American side, Pan Am as it was now called, operated the Boeing 314. And boy was this fancy. It featured all first-class seats, chefs from famous hotels, waiters in white uniforms, dressing rooms for both men and women and bunks for sleeping during the slow 210 miles per hour (303 km/h) trip.

The first land-based aircraft was by the specially designed Lufthansa Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor from Berlin to New York.

The war (the 1940s)

Just when civilian air travel was about to take off (pun not intended), World War II began. Because of the perils of moving precious cargo across the sea (in the form of Nazi U-Boats), America and the allies decided it would be better to fly.

Better technology led to better aircraft that could easily make the journey in under 20 hours, in the form of bigger piston engines and longer runways allowing an aircraft to carry more fuel.

After World War II long runways were available, and North American and European carriers such as Pan Am, TWA, Trans Canada Airlines (TCA), BOAC, and Air France acquired larger piston airliners that could cross the North Atlantic with stops (usually in Gander, Newfoundland and/or Shannon, Ireland).

Pan Am
Pan Am DC-4. Photo: Imperial War Museums

In January 1946 Pan Am’s DC-4 was scheduled New York (La Guardia) to London (Hurn) in 17 hours 40 minutes, five days a week. In June 1946, Lockheed L-049 Constellations had brought the eastward time to Heathrow down to 15 hr 15 min.

Following the end of that era was also the rise of jet aircraft. In October 1958, BOAC started transatlantic flights between London Heathrow and New York with a Comet 4, and Pan Am followed on 26 October with a Boeing 707 service between New York and Paris.

Modern travel

From there, airlines introduced more routes with better jet aircraft, decreasing the time and the flexibility of air travel. This technology would gradually improve without a new major development in many years.

Well, that’s not entirely true.

Supersonic flights on the Concorde ran from 1976 to 2003, from London (by British Airways) and Paris (by Air France) to New York and Washington, in around three hours. It would eventually wind up but at the end of its run, it was operating profitably.

British Airways Concorde
British Airways Concorde. Photo: British Airways

A British Airways spokesman in 2003 said: “Concorde will not fly commercially again. Airbus says it will not support the continued use of the planes because the maintenance would be too expensive and it is just not viable.”

When air travel was deregulated, the market exploded with many airlines now making the journey across the Atlantic between Europe and the Americas. In 2015, there were 44 million seats on offer from 67 European airports with no sign of slowing down.

transatlantic flight time

Eight Types of Private Jets: Which One Is for You?

types-of-private-jets-cabin-interior

Privacy, time savings and unparalleled comfort are just some of the perks of flying via a private jet.
Cozy sleeping areas, contemporary showers, lavishly appointed board rooms, and plush seats with an abundance of legroom – these are the additional features you can enjoy depending on the private aircraft you are using.

Whether you are planning to buy your own business jet, or you wish to charter one, it is best to know which type will suit your needs and preferences to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable travel, every time.

1. Very Light Jets 

hondajet-elite

HondaJet Elite

The smallest type of private jet, Very Light Jets (VLJs) are cost-effective to operate and maintain in contrast with standard light jets. These are ideal for short-haul distances or up to a maximum of three hours of flight time.

Also known as Compact Light Jets, these can use shorter runways and fly into areas that are often inaccessible to commercial airlines. These jets typically accommodate four to seven passengers and carry a reasonable amount of luggage, but they have no room for a cabin attendant.

Popular types of VLJs include Embraer Phenom 100, Eclipse 500 and HondaJet HA-420.

AircraftEmbraer Phenom 100Eclipse 500HondaJet HA-420
Passenger Capacity4 to 7 people45 to 6 people
Range1,211 nautical miles1,294 nautical miles1,223 nautical miles
Baggage Capacity70 ft316 ft366 ft3
FacilitiesEnclosed rear lavatoryLeather seatingRear lavatory
Small forward galleyWork/dining tableFoldable table
Complimentary snacks and refreshmentsLED upper lightingOptional cabin management system

2. Small Light Jets

cessna-citation-cj2

Cessna Citation CJ2

Offering better passenger capacity, small light jets can comfortably seat up to eight people, making it widely popular among business travelers. These jets also have a higher average flight distance, ranging from 1,400 to 2,500 nautical miles with a maximum speed of 500 miles per hour. These capabilities make them ideal for two- to three-hour flights, even for intracontinental routes.

Like their smaller counterparts, small light jets can access small airports and runways, giving business travelers more flexibility and freedom to use less busier airports instead of crowded commercial airports.

Although most small light jets do not have room for a cabin attendant, they can be outfitted with a lavatory, unlike most VLJs. Hawker 400 XP, Cessna Citation CJ2 and Dassault Falcon 10 are some of the popular jets in this class.

AircraftHawker 400 XPCessna Citation CJ2Dassault Falcon 10
Passenger Capacity6 to 8 people6 to 8 people6 to 8 people
Range1,400 nautical miles1,530 nautical miles1,520 nautical miles
Baggage Capacity53 ft374 ft341 ft3
FacilitiesEnclosed lavatoryLeather interiorExecutive seating with fold-down center
Galley and refreshment barPrivate lavatoryRear bench seat
Rear luggage sectionGalley and refreshment barLavatory

3. Super Light Jets

embraer-phenom-300

Embraer Phenom 300

Super light jets offer enhanced size, range and comfort compared with the small light jet class. With a more spacious cabin and luggage compartment, super light jets can accommodate an average of eight passengers in guaranteed comfort.

Though larger in size, super light jets can easily navigate short runways at private airstrips and small airports, so travelers who want to avoid the crowds at major airports can have alternative options for departure and arrival.

Notable aircraft in the super light jet class include Gulfstream G100, which can up seat up to nine people, and Embraer Phenom 300, which can carry a maximum of 11 passengers.

AircraftGulfstream G100Embraer Phenom 300Citation XLS
Passenger Capacity7 people6 to 8 people8 people
Range2,550 nautical miles1,692 nautical miles1,687 nautical miles
Baggage Capacity64 ft374 ft380 ft3
FacilitiesFull enclosed lavatory Executive seating with fold-out tableRefreshment center
Mini galleyRefreshment centerInflight conference room
Power outletsLavatoryLavatory and sink

4. Midsize Cabin Jets

gulfstream-150

Gulfstream G150

Mid-size private jets are the optimum choice for travelers who require longer flight capacity. With an average range of 2,200 nautical miles – or around five hours of non-stop travel – mid-size jets can easily manage short-haul and long-haul flights, ensuring transcontinental capacity.

Because it comes with a bigger cabin, it is ideal for passengers who want more headroom, full standing capacity and additional space for luggage. Mid-size jets also offer more stylish interiors and can provide utmost comfort and convenience for five to 10 passengers.

Mid-size jets generally have enough room for two pilots, a flight attendant, a service galley and an on-board lavatory, while some can even be outfitted with an enclosed shower and fold-out divans. Equipped with Wi-Fi and phone capabilities, mid-size jets are perfect for those who prefer to stay connected and productive during flights.

Mid-size private jets can still use smaller airports and are more cost-efficient to operate in comparison with heavy jets. If you are eyeing a mid-size private jet for your next travel, take a look at Gulfstream 150, Cessna Citation Latitude and Learjet 60.

AircraftGulfstream G150Cessna Citation LatitudeLearjet 60
Passenger Capacity7 people7 to 9 people7 to 8 people
Range2,760 nautical miles2,700 nautical miles2,250 nautical miles
Baggage Capacity80 ft3127 ft355 ft3
FacilitiesFully enclosed lavatory Spacious lavatory and baggage compartmentBusiness-class leather seating
Fully galleyExpanded refreshment centerRear modern lavatory
Entertainment systemStand-up flat-floor cabinExecutive fold out tables

5. Super Midsize Cabin Jets

cessna-citation-sovereign

Cessna Citation Sovereign

Larger cabin space and greater flying capacity are the upgrades that super mid-size cabin jets hold over standard mid-size private jets. The super mid-size cabin jet class can fly up to seven hours, covering an average of 3,500 miles.

Super mid-size jets feature spacious standing and walking room and have ample space for an enclosed lavatory and service galley. Featuring enhanced avionics that enable a quieter operation, super mid-size jets provide a higher level of comfort for travelers while delivering greater speed and range.

Gulfstream 200, Cessna Citation Sovereign and Bombardier Challenge 350 are premier choices in this class.

AircraftGulfstream G200Cessna Citation SovereignBombardier Challenger 350
Passenger Capacity8 to 10 people9 to 12 people10 people
Range3,130 nautical miles2,620 nautical miles3,200 nautical miles
Baggage Capacity150 ft3135 ft3106 ft3
FacilitiesForward full-service galleyRefreshment centerFully enclosed rear lavatory
Read enclosed lavatoryPrivate lavatory with vanityRefreshment center
Versatile cabin layoutsCenterline closetDivan layout or double-club seating options

6. Heavy Jets

bombardier-challenger-605

Bombardier Challenger 605

First-class seats, more spacious legroom, and pull-out tabletops are just a few of the upgrades that heavy jets present to elite travelers. Boasting significantly larger cabin sizes, heavy jets envelop 10 passengers or more in a high level of aviation comfort and elegance, with all the privacy and exclusivity available in private travel.

Standard heavy jets can easily accommodate two flight attendants to manage full in-flight catering, while still having more than enough space for entertainment facilities, enclosed bathrooms and dedicated sleeping areas. In-flight productivity is guaranteed with convenient Wi-Fi and phone capabilities.

These king-size private jets pack in power too, with a superior flying capacity of up to nine hours non-stop and a range of 4,000 miles. Bombardier Challenger 605, Gulfstream 450 and Dassault Falcon 900 are a few top-of-the-line models in this class.

AircraftBombardier Challenger 605Gulfstream 350Dassault Falcon 900
Passenger Capacity9 to 12 people14 to 16 people12 to 19 people
Range3,834 nautical miles3,680 nautical miles3,590 nautical miles
Baggage Capacity115 ft3169 ft3127 ft3
FacilitiesExecutive layout with divan option availableEnclosed lavatorySpacious customizable cabin
Full-service galleyEntertainment centerFull-sized galley
Rear enclosed lavatoryFull-sized galleyFull vanity rear lavatory

 7. Ultra-Long-Range Heavy Jets

bombardier-global-6000

Bombardier Global 6000

If you are looking for something even better than heavy jets, then the ultra-long-range heavy jet class is probably the right choice for you. Renowned for offering the best in private travel, ultra-long-range jets provide generous cabin space with different areas dedicated to dining, work, entertainment and relaxation.

Complete with enclosed bathrooms, lie-flat beds, full-service galley and a roomy luggage area, this segment of private jets is designed to offer the highest levels of comfort and extravagance for the most discerning travelers.

With lavishly appointed interiors and ultramodern amenities, these jets ensure a relaxing and enjoyable trip, comfortably accommodating an average of 14 to 17 passengers. Capable of flying distances of 6,000 to 6,500 miles, ultra-long-range jets are the optimum choices for long-haul travels.

If you are looking to invest in an ultra-long-range jet, these are the top models you can explore: Gulfstream V, Dassault Falcon 7X and Bombardier Global 6000.

AircraftGulfstream VDassault Falcon 7XBombardier Global 6000
Passenger Capacity16 to 19 people12 to 16 people8 to 19 people
Range6,250 nautical miles5,950 nautical miles5,890 nautical miles
Baggage Capacity226 ft3140 ft3195 ft3
FacilitiesUp to four living spaces Three spacious lounge areasPrivate stateroom
Full-sized galley Forward/rear lavatoriesFull-service galley
Separate lavatories for passenger and crewRefreshment centerSeparate crew area

8. Executive Liners/Bizliners

Airbus ACJ320 photo by Comlux Aviation Group

The crème de le crème of private air travel, executive liners, or bizliners, are commercial aircraft modified for business travel or private use. Featuring a high level of customization, these are the most expensive private jets in the market.

From opulent and bespoke interiors, to spacious private suites, en-suite shower and on-board cocktail lounge, this aircraft class takes elite travel on a whole new level. Even with all these exclusive amenities, bizliners offer plenty of space for dining areas, conference rooms, overhead storage compartments, walk-in cupboards and full-service galleys manned by flight attendants.

As these private jets can navigate higher altitudes, they can operate in most weather conditions and cover great distances, making them the ideal choice for intercontinental flights or trips that last up to 10 hours or more without a stopover.

Depending on how the aircraft is customized, it can seat around 19 to 48 passengers in first-class comfort and pure elegance. Both Airbus and Boeing offer wide-body and narrow-body bizliners, such as Airbus ACJ380, Airbus ACJ319, Boeing B747-8 and Boeing BBJ.

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