Aviation in 2001
Modernisation of 36 McDonnell Douglas F4E Phantoms for
the Hellenic Air Force is well under way. Beginning in
March 2000, the work is carried out by DASA in Munich and
the Phantom, which first entered service in the 1960's,
will receive avionics and weapons upgrades.
Integrated Company comes into existence, formed as part
of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
announces its expectation for the Voyager 1 spacecraft to
reach the beginnings of interstellar space in 2002/2003.
This will be indicated by the measurement of the
'termination shock' where the solar and interstellar
winds interact, which marks the beginning of interstellar
space. Voyager 1, the farthest human made object from
Earth, was launched in 1977.
China launches a 'Shenzhou' spacecraft on its second
unmanned test flight and the Chinese government has plans
to launch a manned Shenzhou in 2005.
The first pictures of the Chinese J10 Chengdu fighter
become public. The aircraft is revealed to be a
single-seat single-engined canard delta and is seen as an
attempt by the Chinese to leap-frog two generations of
Contact with the deep space probe Pioneer 10 is lost. The
last signal received from the probe is about 11 billion
kilometres (7 billion miles) from Earth. Launched in
1972, it is the first man made object to leave the solar
Allied aircraft attack Iraqi military control and
communications sites south of Baghdad. The attacks come
in response to continued threats to Allied aircraft
policing the Southern No-Fly zone from Iraqi anti
A General Atomics RQ1 Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)
test fires a laser guided AGM114 Hellfire missile.
A Thai airways International Boeing 737-400 is destroyed
while parked at Bangkok international airport. The
explosion and subsequent fire occur 35 minutes before
Thailand's Prime Minister is due to board the aircraft
for a flight to Chaing Mai.
Northrop Grumman RQ4A Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
(UAV) is cleared for production and testing with the
United States Air Force.
The Lockheed Martin X35A Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)
completes its flight test schedule, logging 73 flights
and 58 hours flying time. The X35B Short Take-Off
Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant of the JSF begins
testing of its Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL)
Two hijackers, identifying themselves as Chechen rebels,
seize control of a Vnukovo Airlines Tu154 with 162
passengers on board as it departs Istanbul Ataturk
airport. The aircraft lands safely at Medina airport in
Saudi Arabia, where the hijack is brought to an end by
Saudi Special Forces, who storm the airplane, killing one
of the hijackers, a passenger and a stewardess.
The Russian space station Mir ends its 15 year career in
space at 0559hrs GMT with a successful de-orbit and
re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere. Most of the space
station disintegrates on re-enty, but 27 tons of debris
fall into the ocean 2,800 kilometres (1,700 miles) east
of New Zealand. During its career, Mir made 86,320
orbits, travelled 3.5 billion kilometres, was visited by
104 individuals and 110 spacecraft, conducted some 23,000
experiments and 140 spacewalks.
Boeing announces it is planning the development of new
series of airliners that will be designed to fly higher,
further and faster than current commercial airliners.
Investigators are unable to determine the ignition source
of an explosion in a Thai Airways International Boeing
737 on 3 March. There was no evidence to support the
notion of sabotage.
United States Navy EP3E Aries III electronic and signals
intelligence reconnaissance aircraft collides with a J811
Finback of the Peoples Liberation Army Navy Air Force (PLANAF)
70 miles from the Island of Hainan. The Aries III
aircraft makes an emergency landing at Lingshui airfield
on Hainan, but the Chinese pilot is killed when his
fighter aircraft crashes. A major international incident
occurs as China accuses America of invading national air
space and causing the crash of the fighter. America
demands its aircraft and crew back.
After a satisfactory
resolution between China and America, the aircrew are
repatriated to America on 11 April, and arrangements for
the removal of the Aries III aircraft are made.
Greece defers the purchase of up to 90 Eurofighter
aircraft to pay for 2004 Olympic games.
The Pentagon appointed panel investigating the V22 Osprey
programme publishes its recommendation that it should not
be abandoned, although extensive redesign and repair work
is required to return it to flight. With a disastrous
safety record of 23 deaths in 4 crashes, the fleet had
been grounded since December.
United States Marine Corps (USMC) Commandant General
James L. Jones reaffirms support for the V22 Osprey
Tiltrotor aircraft, saying it remains the program of
choice for the USMC. The V22 programme faces cancellation
by the Government.
The New Zealand Government announces the disbandment of
its two squadrons of A4 Skyhawks and abandons all fast
jet training. All flying tasks will end by 1 December
The Joint Strike Fighter Programme Office begins talks
with Brazil and Germany on possible participation in the
engineering and manufacturing development phases of the
The Lockheed Martin X35B Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Short
Take-Off Vertical Landing (STOVL) demonstrator begins
flight testing vertical take-off, hovering and the
transition to forward. The rival Boeing X32B completes
its first hover and transition to forward flight on 24
More than three months after its emergency landing at
Lingshui airbase in China, the United States Navy EP3E
Aries III is air freighted back to America on a chartered
Russian An124. The Chinese Government insist that a
civilian aircraft be used to remove the aircraft.
An American Airlines and a United Airlines Boeing 767,
each flying from Boston to Los Angeles, are hijacked by
terrorists. The commandeered aircraft are flown by the
terrorists themselves to New York, where they are crashed
into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre. The
attack results in the collapse of
Twin Towers and the deaths of 2,800 passengers and office
An American Airlines
Boeing 757, en route from Washington Dulles to Los
Angeles is also hijacked and hits the Pentagon in
Washington. A second Boeing 757 is hijacked while flying
from Newark to San Fransisco, but passengers overpower
the hijackers and the aircraft crashes near Pittsburgh,
killing all 45 people on board. The attacks force the
closure of American airspace and exacerbate the downturn
in the international airline industry.
Australia's second biggest airline, Ansett, declares
bankruptcy. Although on the verge of bankruptcy for some
time, it is thought the terrorist attacks in America
pushed the company over the edge.
Alitalia agrees to join Air France and Delta Airlines in
the SkyTeam alliance.
Switzerland's National Airline, Swissair, is grounded as
it is declared bankrupt, the largest company to fall
victim to the downturn in air travel and the aftermath of
the terrorist attacks on September 11th
Four weeks after the attack on the Pentagon and World
Trade Centre, American forces begin bombarding targets in
Afghanistan linked to the Al'Qaida terrorist Group and
the ruling Taliban government, as part of 'Operation
Lockheed Martin X35 is selected as the winner of the
Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) competition. A production run
of up 6,000 'F35' aircraft and a contract worth
$200billion to supply the American and British Air forces
and navies are the rewards
After 78 years of operations, Belgium's national airline,
Sabena, declares itself bankrupt with debts of €2.2
billion ($2 billion) and puts over 12,000 employees out
The United States military open up bases in the former
Soviet republics of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to boost
air operations over Afghanistan as part of Operation
A Crossair BAe Systems RJ100 crashes on approach to
Zurich Kloten airport, a month after the introduction of
new noise abatement procedures have forced a different
approach route to the airport. 21 of the 28 passengers
and 3 crew members are killed.
The United States Air Force (USAF) admits to using
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), such as the General
Atomics RQ1 Predator, to locate targets for other
aircraft in Afghanistan and also to attack targets with
its own weapons. It is thought to be the first time an
autonomous, unmanned air vehicle has attacked targets
The Czech government announces the purchase of 72 SAAB/BAe
Systems Gripen aircraft, in a deal worth CzK 50 billion
($1.35 billion). The contract is the second success for
the Gripen in Eastern Europe, having recently secured an
order from Hungary.