Perjalanan Revolusi: Kisah Perintis Pesawat Jet Komersial Pertama, de Havilland Comet

Dipublikasikan oleh Dimas Dani Zaini

03 Mei 2024, 15.52

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Revolutionizing the world of aviation, the inaugural test flight of the world's first commercial jet aircraft, the British de Havilland Comet, on July 27, 1949, in England, marked a pivotal moment in aviation history. The adoption of jet engines successfully transformed the aviation industry by drastically reducing air travel time by half, enabling planes to ascend faster and fly at higher altitudes.

The brainchild of aircraft designer and British aviation pioneer Geoffrey de Havilland (1882-1965), the Comet's inception was rooted in de Havilland's diverse engineering background. Initially involved in designing motorcycles and buses, de Havilland's fascination with flight was sparked after witnessing Wilbur Wright's aircraft demonstration in 1908. Inspired, he embarked on crafting his aircraft, achieving his first successful flight in 1910. Subsequently, he worked for British aircraft manufacturers before establishing his own company in 1920. The De Havilland Aircraft Company became an industry leader renowned for its development of lightweight engines and sleek, swift aircraft.

In 1939, Germany debuted an experimental jet-powered aircraft. During World War II, Germany emerged as the first nation to deploy jet fighters. De Havilland also contributed to wartime efforts by designing fighter planes. In recognition of his aviation contributions, he was knighted in 1944. Post-war, de Havilland shifted focus to commercial jets, spearheading the development of the Comet and Ghost jet engines. Following the July 1949 test flight, the Comet underwent three more years of testing and training flights. Subsequently, on May 2, 1952, the British Overseas Aircraft Corporation (BOAC) initiated the world's first commercial jet service with the Comet 1A, accommodating 44 passengers on a paid journey from London to Johannesburg. The Comet boasted a remarkable speed of 480 miles per hour, setting a speed record at the time.

However, the early commercial service proved short-lived as a series of fatal accidents occurred in 1953 and 1954, prompting a ban on the entire fleet. Investigators concluded that the aircraft's metal structure weakened due to the need for repeated pressurization and depressurization.

Four years later, de Havilland introduced an upgraded and recertified Comet. However, by then, American aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Douglas had unveiled their own jets, faster and more efficient, establishing dominance in the industry. By the early 1980s, most Comet aircraft operated by commercial airlines had been retired from service.

The legacy of the de Havilland Comet as the world's first commercial jet aircraft is indelible, despite its brief commercial lifespan. Its pioneering advancements laid the groundwork for subsequent innovations in commercial aviation, shaping the trajectory of air travel for generations to come.

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