Oil Crisis In Aviation

Good Essays
Historians like Jacobs and Graetz tend to describe the oil crisis as a thorough shake-up from the high chamber of politics to the miles of cars lining up in front of a single gas pump, and the danger of the dependency the nation had developed on petroleum. Examining the root cause of the impact from a more social perspective, Nye dubbed American society since the beginning of 20th century a “high-energy economy,” in which the abundant supply of cheap energy freed members of society from heavy, inconvenient labor, and helped conquer numerous limitations and challenges nature placed on American domination of the world. Like Jacobs and Graetz, Nye claims that the 1970s oil crisis was a tragedy that struck American society, yet it made little …show more content…
Since then, the industry has made fundamental changes to address this vulnerability to price shocks with improved decision making and more research. Unlike the society as a whole, the crisis for aviation was truly a “necessary evil” that, to a great extent, awoke aviation from its dependence on a cheap, abundant oil supply, stimulating a wave of technological innovations that fundamentally improved efficiency of air travel. As airlines suffered, they scrambled for any way to reduce the impact. The demand for newer, cleaner planes encouraged NASA and leading aerospace companies to tackle a series of technological improvements that would dramatically improve fuel saving. Among other projects, composite airframe materials, APET, and wingtip winglets received significant attention and still could be seen in today’s most advanced passenger aircrafts. It is intriguing to see how high operating cost brought by rising fuel cost could persuade airlines to give up on concerns previously associated with these innovations, and to take on the risk deemed undesirable in the past. The plethora of groundbreaking research would not have been possible without the price incentive, as the case with APET has shown. It all boiled down to simple mathematics. Consumers and businesses make their decisions by weighing cost and benefits, and could …show more content…
Moreover, it is worth noting that the fundamental lesson aviation learned, though manifested in the aforementioned surge of research, was embedded in the decision making process and management behavior. The lesson came right in time, too, as such instability of prices have only occurred more frequently since the 1980s. The story told here has more to do with the industry facing the daily calculus of fuel cost over benefit, and fairly little with passengers who are only concerned with the speed, comfort and safety of air travel. In other words, it is certainly true that the aviation industry learned the lesson, but the consumers did not. During those time of crisis and for decades after, the number of passengers and volume of freight carried by air never ceased to increase. Changing people’s lifestyles that had been built on the luxury of high energy consumption was never easy, let alone the rising expectation from technology and the faith in the “old order” where bounty was a never question. Passengers are still traveling in greater numbers. Yet somewhat reassuringly, the aviation industry became greener and more resilient than

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