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Jet Engine Voted ‘Greatest Aviation Innovation Of First 100 Years’

October 8, 2003 - Eclipse Aviation announced today that the jet engine is the people’s choice as the greatest aviation innovation of powered flight’s first 100 years...but not by much. Since April 2003, more than 16,000 people voted online or in person at one of six Countdown to Kitty Hawk pavilion tour stops, and the jet engine won by three tenths of a percent—37.4 percent to 37.1 percent—over the aircraft that started it all, the 1903 Wright Flyer.

Eclipse announced the voting results at the National Business Aviation Association’s (NBAA) 56th Annual Meeting & Convention in Orlando, Florida, where the Albuquerque, New Mexico, developer of the Eclipse 500 jet is a sponsor of EAA’s Countdown to Kitty Hawk presented by Ford Motor Company, with additional support from Microsoft Flight Simulator and Northrop Grumman. The pavilion, which includes interactive aviation exhibits and the world’s most authentic 1903 Wright Flyer reproduction, was brought to NBAA this week by Eclipse and its sponsoring partners, including NBAA, Parker Aerospace, Mecaer, Mach 2 Management, Avidyne, Aerazur, EDS, Seamech, and QualPro Strategies.

Eclipse’s Greatest Aviation Innovations of the First 100 Years exhibit highlighted the following 10 innovations with interactive displays in the Countdown to Kitty Hawk pavilion:

  • Jet Engine - The biggest advance in propulsion. (37.4%)

  • 1903 Wright Flyer - Pointed the way for all successful aircraft that followed it. (37.1%)

  • Piper Cub - The plane that introduced thousands of people to the joy of flying and made “Cub” a synonym for small plane. (7.5%)

  • Boeing 747 - Proved those wrong who doubted there would be enough passengers to make the “big bird” profitable. (4.6%)

  • Air Traffic Control (ATC) Technology - Introduced a unified system of air traffic control. (3.7%)

  • Douglas DC-3/Boeing 247 - The first modern airliners. (3.4%)

  • Sikorsky VS-300 Helicopter - Made vertical flight a reality. (2.2%)

  • Controllable Pitch Propeller - Unlocked the key to getting full performance potential out of any engine. (1.6%)

  • Learjet - Revolutionized business aviation and became synonymous with “business jet.” (1.4%)

  • DeHavilland Comet & Boeing Dash 80 - Set the performance benchmark for the jet airliners that followed. (1.1%)

“Eclipse is committed to revolutionizing the future of air transportation in the next century, so it is fitting that we sponsor the Greatest Aviation Innovations program which highlights and honors mankind’s greatest aviation innovations for the first century of flight,” said Vern Raburn, Eclipse president and CEO. “Through our program, we are celebrating 100 years of aviation history and the spirit of innovation that was first exemplified by two bicycle makers from Ohio.”

“There can be no doubt that the introduction of the jet engine was one of the great turning points in the history of flight,” said Dr. Tom Crouch, senior curator of aeronautics with the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, and one of the judges in the competition that identified the top 10 civil aviation innovations for voter consideration. “Independently invented by Dr. Hans von Ohain in Germany and Sir Frank Whittle in Great Britain, turbojet propulsion inaugurated the era of mass commercial air transportation.”

Earlier this year, judges for the Greatest Aviation Innovations program selected the 10 aviation milestones that have most significantly benefited travelers by decreasing travel time, increasing comfort, reducing cost, and improving air safety. In addition to Crouch, the other panelists included Richard Collins of FLYING magazine; Scott Spangler, Editor in Chief, EAA Publications; Jack Olcott of the National Business Aviation Association; Michael Fopp of the Royal Air Force Museum; and Sir Peter Masefield, aviation historian.



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