Here is an essay on ‘Air Transport’ for class 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12. Find paragraphs, long and short essays on ‘Air Transport’ especially written for school and college students.
Essay on Air Transport
Essay # 1. Introduction to Air Transport:
From ancient times men have wanted to fly, and many attempts were made before suitable methods were discovered. The first really successful method to be developed was the balloon, filled with light gases such as hydrogen or helium which, being lighter than air, were able to rise above the surface.
Apart from controlling the altitude of flight by releasing gas or lessening the amount of ballast carried, balloons were dependent for their general direction upon winds and air currents. Later types of balloons had rudders and steering devices.
At the end of the nineteenth century rigid airships, with a solid framework rather than a simple bag of gas were developed, and these were powered by internal combustion engines. Airships were the first aircraft to cross the Atlantic, but they proved difficult to handle and were generally an unsatisfactory method of transport, and were not used after the 1920s.
Gliders, utilizing air currents and capable of carrying men were developed in the late nineteenth century and were the forerunners of powered aircraft or aeroplanes. The first successful flight by aeroplane was by the American Wright brothers in 1903, and since that time great developments have revolutionized air transport.
Aircraft engines underwent radical alterations as gas turbines, turbo-props and then jet engines were developed, and other features such as pressurized cabins, safety devices, and remote-control landing devices for use in poor weather conditions have also greatly improved aircraft. Vertical take-off and landing, as in helicopters, has also been, evolved.
Aircraft were developed for military purposes during the First World War and have continued to increase in military importance ever since. Moreover, remote-controlled air vehicles such as rockets, missiles and spacecraft have since been developed and have extended the range of manned flight to earth orbit and to the moon.
Air transport is relatively independent of physical barriers such as mountain ranges, though of course, this depends to a large extent on the size and range of the aircraft employed. While the larger jets can fly at great heights, avoiding all barriers, smaller planes have a shorter flight range and must fly at lower altitudes. Such small planes, however, which fly along valleys and between the mountains are extremely important for easing internal transport, e.g. in Nepal or the Andes. Aircraft of one type or another have made it possible to reach the most remote parts of the earth.
Pioneering expeditions to the Polar regions, in the Andes and other mountain regions, over deserts and jungles are nowadays heavily dependent on aircraft. Aircraft have been developed which can land in small airfields, take off or land vertically or hover above the ground. Skids can be fitted instead of wheels for landing on ice and floats can enable planes to land on water in lakes and rivers or at sea. But the greatest advantage of air transport is its speed.
For long-distance travel aircraft are by far the fastest and most efficient method of passenger transport. By the late 1920s passenger planes were already flying at more than 160 kilometres per hour (100 m.p.h.). Jet aircraft can nowadays fly at speeds faster than sound, i.e. at 1,056 k.p.h. (660 m.p.h.) at an altitude of 10,970 metres (36,000 ft) and regular air services operate at speeds around 800 k.p.h. (500 m.p.h.).
The journey from London to New York now takes about 5 hours, or about 17 times less than the time taken by ocean liners. Modem aircraft can fly for distances of 6,400 km (4,000 miles) without refuelling though usually flight distances are much shorter. By flying at altitudes of 12,190 metres (40,000 ft) most weather hazards can also be avoided, though of course storms, ice, fogs and turbulence affect flights at lower levels. Modern aircraft are also capable of carrying several hundred passengers (jumbo-jets can take between 300 and 500 passengers) and the comfort and luxury of air travel is also ideal for passenger transport.
Despite the rapid rise of air transport for passengers, the growth of air-freight traffic was for a long time much slower. This is because air transport is relatively expensive and is only used for cargo either when speed is essential, as in the case of perishable goods, urgently- required medical or food supplies, or where the high value of the goods offsets the high cost of transport, as in the case of luxury goods.
Nevertheless goods traffic by air is on the increase and has grown rapidly in the last decade. While passenger traffic has tripled, freight traffic has quadrupled. It is still not large by comparison with other modes of transport, however. One specialized role played by aircraft is in the relief of major disasters when land transport is unable to reach the areas. In the case of wars, earthquakes, floods and so on, medical supplies, food, and rescue personnel can be quickly airlifted to affected areas.
Commercial airlines came into being after the First World War, the first regular air-service being between London and Paris in 1919. The earliest countries to operate airlines were Britain, France and the U.S.A., where the first planes were developed, but since the Second World War a very large number of airlines has come into operation.
An airline is now a national prestige and status symbol and almost every country in the world has at least one airline. In countries such as the U.S.A. and Britain there are several major companies. The world is now spanned by a vast network of air-routes, though the density of the routes and the frequency of services varies very much from one part of the world to another, depending on the availability of suitably equipped airports, refuelling facilities, as well as on the potential demand for air services.
Airlines can only run economically if there are sufficient passengers to fill regular flights to near-capacity. This in turn depends on the standard of living, for air fares are generally very high compared with those of ocean or land transport.
Essay # 2. Factors Affecting Air Transport:
Air transport has been rapidly developed in the last 60 years and is constantly becoming more important, but development has been very uneven in different parts of the world. There are several limiting factors which make it unlikely that air transport will ever become a universal form of transport.
The major factors affecting the present importance and future development of air transport are discussed below:
(a) Limited Carrying Capacity:
Lack of space in aeroplanes restricts the amount of freight they can carry. Many goods are either too bulky or of too low a value to merit air transport. In the foreseeable future, it is not likely that commercial transport planes will carry such goods as iron, coal, timber, rubber, or grains which can be much more economically transported by sea.
Only in exceptional cases are machinery or equipment transported by planes. High air-freight rates will limit the role of air transport for many years to come to the carriage of passengers, mail and highly- valued articles.
(b) Freedom of the Air:
The air is less ‘free’ than the sea, because though nations can only claim sovereignty over their territorial waters they can claim all the air space over their territory. Thus foreign planes cannot make use of the air space unless they have obtained permission to do so in advance. The battle to secure flying rights is often a long and expensive one.
Many countries, especially those located at the world’s crossroads of trade and communication, also demand exorbitant fees for landing rights by foreign planes. In the event of hostility between the countries, flying rights may never be granted. There have been far too many instances in history where planes were shot down for trespassing over another country, and some of these incidents may even lead to war.
American planes are still not permitted to fly over Soviet skies, unless on official visits or special occasions. Pakistani planes were unable to fly across India at the time of the disastrous floods in Bangladesh in 1971.
Apart from political considerations, however, most countries lay down certain air lanes at a specific height in which planes may fly. These are carefully surveyed and controlled by ground-control and are a safety measure to avoid aerial collisions and to enable planes to be kept informed of weather conditions at all times.
Any rapid increase in the use of air transport would put great pressure on existing air lanes with consequent increases in the danger of air transport. Moreover, if many extra air lanes were initiated rapidly there would be more intersection points, and again more danger.
(c) Adequacy of Air Terminals:
With the rapid expansion of air transport, especially in respect of the increased size and capacity of planes, many air terminals are finding themselves inadequately equipped to accommodate such planes. The runways are not sufficiently long, fuel supplies and ground staff are inadequate and often ground maintenance and meteorological services are not sufficiently sophisticated.
Moreover, poor passenger-handling facilities cause long delays for travellers. Large planes have no alternative but to by-pass such small terminals. In some less-developed countries or very densely populated districts, there may even be difficulties of finding a suitable landing space and only light planes are able to land on small airstrips.
In some places helicopters are preferred, especially in rescue operations, emergency landings or urgent despatch of supplies because of their ability to land on tiny fields or even flat rooftops. In some large cities helicopters are also used to allow passengers to reach the heart of the city quickly. When vertical take-off and landing aircraft are fully developed this could have far-reaching effects on the size, location and running of airports.
Another problem of air terminals is that because they need a large space they are usually situated at some distance from the centres of major towns. Where traffic is congested and the proposed air trip short, travel time to the airport may exceed the time spent in the air.
In future more efficient means of land transportation will have to be evolved to handle the large numbers of air passengers easily and quickly. At present this time factor limits to some extent the use of air transport over short distances. For example, in Britain it is almost as quick to go by high-speed train from London to Liverpool as it is to fly if the journey to and from the air terminals is included.
(d) Cost of Air Transport:
Costs of aircraft, fuel, regular and thorough servicing and provision of air terminal facilities, as well as the cost of obtaining flying and landing rights, are all expensive. Airlines must also provide a large staff of pilots, stewardesses and ground-based clerks and booking personnel whose salaries are high.
Thus air transport is a relatively expensive form of conveyance and large-scale air travel is still something of a luxury in most parts of the world. Apart from the wealthy, the businessmen and the government officials who depend on air travel as a speedy way of getting from place to place, tourists and holiday-makers are the main users of air services because quick travel gives them the longest possible holiday in their chosen area.
By enlarging aircraft, e.g. the jumbo-jets, and lowering or at least stabilizing air fares at economy rates the airlines hope to attract more passengers. But most scheduled services tend to fly at only half or even a quarter capacity. Many holiday-makers travel on chartered aircraft at cheaper rates. Cheap fares are possible if full capacity flights are ensured as is the case with charter flights.
As yet air-freight services are relatively little used because of high costs but as special aircraft and goods- handling systems are developed in the future a greater volume of airborne trade can be expected.
(e) Availability of Alternative Transport:
At present the use of air services is very uneven in different parts of the world. In the U.S.A. passenger traffic has almost deserted the long-distance rail services because of the speed, comfort and efficiency of air transport. This is only possible for two reasons; namely that the standard of living is high in the U.S.A. and more of the people can afford air travel, and secondly that distances within the country are long because of its large area.
Air transport is therefore the most economic for trans-continental travel. In many other large countries such as the U.S.S.R., Canada, Australia, and Brazil a similar situation arises but in some of these the lack of roads or railways, e.g. in interior Brazil or central Australia, is a contributory factor.
On the other hand in many smaller countries, although foreign travel by air is common, internal air traffic is much less important. In Britain for example, other forms of passenger transport over the relatively small distances involved are very competitive, especially when the difficulties of reaching the air terminals are taken into account.
In many underdeveloped countries, even some which are fairly small in size, such as Malaysia, air transport is relatively important, particularly where the communication system is still being developed and roads are poor or non-existent in some areas, as in Sabah and Sarawak. Air travel is also important in countries where there are many islands, e.g. Philippines and Indonesia, since it overcomes the sea barriers without the delay of water transport.
Essay # 3. World Air Routes:
(a) North America:
By far the greatest amount of air traffic is found in the U.S.A., where both international and internal flights are very numerous. Canada also has a relatively large volume of air traffic. Speed over great distances and the generally high standard of living, which ensures a large potential market for air services, are the main advantages of air travel in North America.
Apart from passenger transport, freight transport is increasingly important to American airlines. The main goods moved by air include printed matter, mail, small machinery, electrical parts, films, optical instruments, personal baggage, drugs, liquor, fresh fruit and vegetables, or, in other words, goods of small size or high value, requiring speedy transport.
United States alone is served by about 9,000 air terminals, has over 150,000 registered civil aircraft, and accounts for almost half the world’s air passenger traffic and over one-third of its air freight. The country is served by four large air corporations: the United Air Lines, Trans-World Airlines, Pan-American Airlines and Eastern Air Lines, besides more than 45 domestic air carriers. The busiest airports are those of New York, Chicago, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, Boston and Miami. Planes take off from these terminals every few minutes.
In Canada, the largest airline company is the Trans-Canada Airline, with Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver as the busiest air terminals.
The main trans-American air routes radiate from New York; westwards to Pittsburgh, Chicago, Sioux City, Denver and San Francisco, with branch routes to St. Louis, Kansas City, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, and Los Angeles; southwards to Washington D.C., Atlanta, Miami and New Orleans; and northwards to Canadian cities such as Montreal, Quebec, Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver.
After the United States, the greatest volume of air traffic is found in Europe, especially at London, Paris, Rome, Madrid, Shannon (southern Ireland), Berlin, Warsaw, Vienna, Geneva and Moscow which are linked by international and trans-continental airlines to all parts of the world. European airways probably account for about a fifth of the world’s air traffic.
Passengers from all corners of the globe land every minute at some airport in Europe, either in connection with commerce, industry, conferences or tourism. Planes leave Rome airport every three minutes, because of its excellent focal position for international air flights to and from Asia, America, Africa, and South America. London’s Heathrow airport is the busiest in the world. The volume of mail and freight amongst the European countries themselves is also large because of their well-established industrial and agricultural development.
Most of the European countries have their own national airlines, the most important of which include: British Airways, KLM (the Dutch Airline), Lufthansa (of Germany), A1 Italia, Air France, and SAS (jointly operated by the Scandinavian countries—Norway, Sweden and Denmark). Of the European airlines, British Airways has the most extensive operations, with branches all over the world, especially in Commonwealth countries.
(c) Rest of the World:
Apart from the world-wide international services of the major American and European airways, air traffic in the rest of the world is handled by a large number of smaller airlines. The largest and most important are, however, as large as some of the European companies. These include: Japan Airlines, Air India, Qantas (Australia), South African Airways and Brazilian companies. Aeroflot, the national airline of the U.S.S.R., also has important internal and international air routes.
In most developing countries, airlines are fairly small with a limited number of aircraft. Some smaller countries have concentrated on developing international routes to encourage tourism, e.g. Singapore, Thailand, but others, e.g. Malaysia and the Philippines also emphasize local services within the country in order to improve overall communications.
In most developing countries, by far the largest proportion of people are too poor to afford air travel, and thus the potential market is small. In most countries, however, there is generally at least one airport, usually near the capital city, capable of handling international flights, but in the remoter areas airfields are often small and have far fewer facilities.
Some of the major routes followed by aircraft around the world are described in more detail below:
(i) The Commonwealth route:
This route passes through London, Rome, Kuwait or Bahrein, Karachi, Bombay, Colombo, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. From Singapore it continues either south-eastwards to Jakarta, Darwin, Adelaide, Sydney and Wellington, or north-east to Manila, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Honolulu, where it links with American air routes via San Francisco or Los Angeles. These routes are followed by the major international airlines but are also served by local airlines in the countries through which they pass. These local airlines also provide services from the main airports to other towns in the various countries.
(ii) Russian air routes:
Within the Soviet Union air traffic is of two kinds. Major services link the major cities such as Moscow, Leningrad, Tashkent, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk and Vladivostok, and continue on international flights, mainly within the communist bloc to such cities as Sofia, Bucharest, Warsaw, Pyongyang and Beijing (Peking).
Aeroflot is looking further afield and now flies to about 50 countries throughout the world. Apart from the major trans-continental services there are many short-distance services centred on the major towns and radiating to smaller centres. These use small planes carrying only a few passengers but, especially in Asiatic U.S.S.R., they form an important means of communication.
(iii) African air routes:
Africa is served by international airlines following the East African route, through London, Rome, Cairo, Khartoum, Addis Ababa, Nairobi, Salisbury and Johannesburg, with links across the Indian Ocean to Mauritius, Sri Lanka and South-East Asia; the Central African route through Paris, Marseilles, Algiers, Kano, Lagos, Kinshasa, Johannesburg, Durban or Cape Town; or the West African route through London, Madrid, or Lisbon, Casablanca, Dakar (with links to Rio de Janeiro across the Atlantic), Freetown, Monrovia, Accra, Lagos and Luanda.
In addition many African countries, including South Africa, Egypt, Zaire, Rhodesia and the East African countries of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, have domestic airlines which serve not only the above routes but provide links with minor towns and cities.
(iv) South American air routes:
The main focus of air routes in South America is Rio de Janeiro, but many other major cities including Panama, Mexico City, Recife, Brasilia, Bogota, Sao Paulo, Montevideo, Santiago, Lima, Quito, and Buenos Aires, have links with each other as well as with North America, Europe, and across the Pacific and South Atlantic.