NASHUA, N.H. - The stressful year of 2020 is one many are happy to have behind them, including those in the aerospace industry. The COVID-19 pandemic had its largest impact in the aerospace world in the commercial sector. Largely insulated with budgets approved ahead of the pandemic, military orders continued to be filled. With commercial airline travel brought to a near standstill for a time, carriers cancelled orders that outpaced deliveries.
Many countries, including the United States, delivered relief to impacted industries, but, according to The Hill, global aircraft production dropped approximately 50% in 2020. The Hill also reports that 220,000 American aerospace jobs are currently at risk.
This impacted not only aerospace giants like Boeing and Airbus, but their major suppliers like Raytheon Technologies' Collins Aerospace and Pratt & Whitney, and GE Aerospace, and smaller vendors who work with them throughout the supply chain.
A major story from 2019 continued to make waves as the Boeing 737 MAX stayed grounded throughout 2020 (aside from a short jaunt offered to journalists last month from Dallas to Tulsa, Okla., after the Federal Aviation Administration announced it was lifting its restrictions on the aircraft from flying). The best-selling aircraft will soon be taking on passengers once again after repairs are made to the commercial jet's MCAS system found at fault in a pair of deadly crashes in 2018 and 2019 that grounded the aircraft and preparations are made to ready them for service after a long time on the tarmac.
Another very popular story stemmed from an announcement last summer that the Pentagon would be making public some findings related to UFO videos taken by U.S. military pilots in 2018. The footage came from a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet using the Raytheon ATFLIR Pod that was being operated by a trained aerial observer and weapons system operator that showed an object traveling below them that has not yet been identified.
While large passenger craft production was greatly impacted by COVID-19 in a major way, companies and partnerships related to the burgeoning Urban Air Mobility (UAM) sector, also referred to as "air taxis," continued to move forward. Last month, Volocopter announced it would be launching air taxi services in the city-state of Singapore in the next three years. The electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft is also being studied by the U.S. Army to make its rotorcraft much quieter.
Much higher than the low-lying eVTOLs, commercial space made history as SpaceX sent a quartet of astronauts to the International Space Station in November while United Launch Alliance and Northrop Grumman, among others, successfully sent payloads to space.
With COVID-19 vaccines now being distributed, it is possible the aerospace industry can look to rebound in 2021, though the global pandemic will likely take years to recover from.
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Happy New Year to our readers!