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Air Transport

What is air transport?

It’s the activity involving the movement of people, goods, or mail by air.

International air transport is defined as air service whose departure and destination points are located in different nations; service that makes a stopover in another country, even if its departure and destination points are in the same country; and service that enters the airspace of another country along its route.

History of air transport

World War II saw unprecedented technological development in aircraft. In 1944, the Convention on International Civil Aviation, better known as the Chicago Convention, was drafted. The participating countries went about organizing the norms that had been in effect until the beginning of the war. This historic agreement laid the foundations and basic principles for making international air transport possible in peacetime.

This agreement was the seed that would lead to the creation of a specialized organization, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), to organize and support the intense international cooperation that the emerging global air transport network would need. One of its main goals is to help various states achieve the greatest possible uniformity in the regulations, standards, procedures, and organization of civil aviation.

What types of air transport are there?

There are many potential types of classifications around air transport, ranging from the most general, which may distinguish the different means of air transport (helicopter, light aircraft, airship, hot air balloon, airplane, etc.), to more specific ones that classify types of air transport based on their cargo. In this case, three major groups can be defined:

Combi aircraft: these carry passengers in the cabin and goods in the hold. The most well-known are those built by Airbus and Boeing.

Cargo aircraft: they exclusively transport goods.

Super transporters: aircraft designed to transport large goods.

What are the characteristics of air transport?

The main characteristics and advantages of air freight transport are speed, reliability in terms of cargo security, and freedom from limitations to accessing remote locations. However, it does have drawbacks or disadvantages in terms of the higher cost, possible bureaucratic or legal limitations, and technical limitations based on the dimensions and capacity of the aircraft.

What is military air transport?

Military air transport is carried out by the military with cargo aircraft. These are generally used to send troops, weaponry, and other military equipment anywhere military operations are being conducted, usually off of commercial flight routes in uncontrolled airspace. Originally derived from bombers, military transport aircraft were used for delivering airborne forces during World War II and for towing military gliders. Currently, they also carry out international cooperative efforts in serious or delicate situations as needed.

What is civil-commercial air transport?

This is the commercial transport of passengers, mail, or cargo according to fixed rates, itineraries, and schedules that are general knowledge. Regular air traffic provides this service.

In Spanish regulation, domestic air traffic is defined as that which takes place over the sovereign territory of the aircraft’s national state; foreign air traffic takes place over the sovereign territory of another state, either entirely or in part. This traffic is considered to be international when there is a stopover in a foreign territory. Another type is what is known as cabotage, which takes place between areas of Spanish sovereignty but flies over the territory or jurisdictional waters of another state. This type of transportation can only be carried out by Spanish aircraft.

What benchmarks are there in terms of air transport in Spain?

Ferrovial provides services and solutions in the transportation sector at the highest level. Through FerroNATS, the company has established itself as a leader within the airport sector. It offers services on the ground, in the air, and with air navigation, helping airports run efficiently with high safety standards and promoting sustainability in the airport sector.

What’s the outlook for air traffic worldwide?

Today’s biggest news in air traffic is the introduction of drones, which have gained popularity during the pandemic as a contactless delivery alternative, thus generating the need for specific regulations and infrastructure.

With drones, the concept of the vertiport emerged. This is a vertical landing and take-off facility where vehicles can also be recharged. However, the concept of the vertiport has taken on an even more futuristic connotation with the development of Urban Air Mobility, which promises to be mobility for the smart cities of the near future.

In 2019, the world’s first vertiport for air taxis opened in Singapore by Volocopter, a pioneering German company in urban air mobility, and Skysports, which operates the facility. At the start of 2021, Ferrovial began work on a project to develop some 20 vertiports in Spain and more than 10 in Florida (the United States) in association with Lilium. 

Fun facts about air transport

  • One of the most important aspects recognized in the Chicago Convention is the principle that every state has full and exclusive sovereignty over its territory’s airspace.
  • According to 2015 data from the Spanish Association of Air Transport Companies, if someone traveled by plane once a day, they would be involved in an accident every 3,000 years.
  • In 2019, the first centennial of commercial air transport in Spain was celebrated.
  • The Antonov 225 Miriya is the largest transporter in the world. It has a load capacity of 250 tons; that’s the equivalent of 3 or 4 military tanks, and it is almost as long as a football field. This aircraft was originally designed for the Russian version of the space shuttle. The project was put on hold, though, and it wasn’t until 2001 that it was restored and made its first flight.

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