• Stefan Frei, Urban Mäder




Since the dawn of modern aviation, when Wilbur and Orville Wright performed the first powered flight of mankind on the 17th December 1903, aviation has particularly been driven by technology and innovation. It was the invention of aerodynamic flight control and the availability of the new, powerful combustion engines that ultimately allowed the Wright’s flyer to take off from the ground and stay in the air.

Civil mass aviation started to be popular in the 30ies, much assisted by technologically ground-breaking planes, such as the DC-3. The two world wars further expedited technological advances in aviation. At the end of WW II the first jet-powered fighter aircrafts had already flown. Only few years later, the first jet-powered commercial airliners doubled the speed of then established, propeller-driven designs.

Soon, focus was shifted from “faster, larger, further” to economical- and ecological considerations. This paper aims to investigate improvements made in these areas. The time examined time period ranges from early 60ies to today, thus comparing the first modern airliners (Boeing 707 and DC-8) with today’s flagships.