Just one year ago we made predictions about what we thought aeronautics had in store for us in 2015. Today it’s time to take stock. We have re-wound the year’s videos to produce this end of year compilation to remind you what actually materialized; the failures, the nice, and not so nice surprises.
For maiden flights, we were well served in 2015. There was that of the Gulfstream G500, the Embraer KC-390, the Mitsubishi MRJ, the Bombardier CS300 and the Dassault Aviation Falcon 8X; however the 5X has still not taken off due to problems with its Silvercrest engines.
Regarding deliveries, we expected that of the first Qatar Airways A320neo this month, but ultimately it was Germany's Lufthansa who came in first. In Canada, the flop came with Bombardier’s Learjet 85, which should have begun its commercial operation but whose programme came to an abrupt halt, early this year, because of an insufficient market. As for the CS100, its first delivery to Swiss was postponed until next spring.
For a barrel of oil in 2015, our crystal ball spoke of a price around 85 dollars. The reality was beyond all expectations, in falling below 40 dollars this year - a boon for airlines.
In terms of orders in 2015, the Rafale recorded its first international success. Egypt, Qatar, India: Dassault Aviation took 84 firm orders for their fighter.
In the Boeing and Airbus design offices, the final designs for the 787-10, the longest version of the Dreamliner, and the Beluga XL for aircraft parts’ transportation have been finalized, and should enter service in 2017 and 2019 respectively.
In terms of parcel deliveries by drone, we are still waiting. However the real novelty this year was the development of a delivery terminal by GeoPost, a subsidiary of the French post office group tested last summer. A system that will, perhaps, accelerate this new air delivery service.
Following the Virgin Galactic Space Shuttle accident over a year ago, Richard Branson has not abandoned his idea to launch commercial space flights. Since last spring, a new vessel called for now, "Second SpaceShipTwo", has been taking shape in Mojave, California.
Despite intense research, 2015 failed to reveal the exact location of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 fuselage. One of the aircraft’s flaperons was discovered at Réunion island in the Pacific, but it will still probably take some time before the wreck is finally located.
As for flight MH17, the Dutch inquest this year confirmed that the aircraft had been shot down by a surface to air missile, but for now we still do not know officially who the perpetrators were.
Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee revealed the AirAsia Flight QZ8501 crash cause as the mishandling of a technical problem by pilots that led to the A320’s breaking up in the Java Sea.
Finally, 2015 produced many surprises and dramas that we could not foresee. Starting with the collision between two helicopters participating in the filming of a French reality TV show in Argentina, leaving ten dead, amongst them high-level sports personalities: swimmer Camille Muffat, sailor Florence Arthaud and boxer Alexis Vastine. There was also the crash of a Russian airline Metrojet A321 in Egypt killing its 224 occupants. The crash of an A400M during a test flight in Spain in which four of the six personnel on board died. The Slovak AeroMobil flying car also crashed during a flight test although fortunately without casualties, thanks to its onboard whole-aircraft parachute.
And then there was the impressive crash of a Transasia Airways ATR just after take-off from Taipei. Due to problems on one of the engines, the pilot shut down the second by error, resulting in an accident, which claimed 42 lives.
But what will undoubtedly mark this year, 2015, in terms of accidents, is that of Germanwings. The story of a young German co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, who, alone at the controls, locked the cockpit door and slammed the plane and the other 149 people on board into a mountain side.
Finally, the good news: this year, Boeing formally unveiled their 737 MAX to their employees; Chinese aircraft manufacturer, COMAC, introduced their C919, and also delivered their first ARJ21; Airbus opened their first assembly line on American soil, and Airbus Helicopters unveiled their superbly designed H160. The CFM International LEAP engine for the A320neo has been certified, and the E-Fan electrical training aircraft crossed the English Channel.
Concerning airlines, easyJet celebrated their 20th anniversary, several Air France managers were manhandled by a number of employees, and Qatar Airways stopped dismissing their pregnant hostesses. The ‘‘Air Cocaine’’ affair pilots returned from the Dominican Republic to France - VERY discreetly. The monitoring of civil aircraft by satellite is now official, together with a European Passenger Name Record. In short, a very busy 2015 for aviation news - now we can look forward to 2016.