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The Covid-19 pandemic is the worst crisis aviation has ever faced. Which one was the biggest one before that pandemic?

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    $\begingroup$ could you define "biggest"? $\endgroup$ – Federico Oct 13 at 7:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Federico, w.r.t. impact, e.g. airplanes grounded, airliners struggling, employees getting laid off, passengers afraid to fly, and so on. I exclude World Wars periods. $\endgroup$ – gsamaras Oct 13 at 15:52
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure the Covid-19 pandemic is a crisis to aviation. Most certainly it is to the airline industry, but to aviation as a whole? Really? My father has flown his Cub weekly all summer. $\endgroup$ – CGCampbell Oct 14 at 13:38
  • $\begingroup$ To commercial aviation I meant @CGCampbell. $\endgroup$ – gsamaras Oct 14 at 18:17
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Crisis is somewhat hard to define explicitly but the September 11th Attacks had an enormous impact on the commercial aviation industry in perhaps more ways than the current Pandemic has.

It took nearly 3 years for aviation travel numbers to return after the attacks and arguably we are still seeing lasting impacts on changes to broad aviation travel procedures as a direct results of the attacks even 20 years later.

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  • $\begingroup$ Probably the right answer, maybe I was too young back then, thanks. $\endgroup$ – gsamaras Oct 10 at 23:01
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    $\begingroup$ I am skeptical. Surely the closure of routes and repurposing of personnel, aircraft, and production lines during World War II was a bigger (as a proportion) and longer lasting change, even if aviation was much smaller then. $\endgroup$ – Anonymous Physicist Oct 11 at 1:37
  • $\begingroup$ This was asked a couple months ago. $\endgroup$ – John K Oct 11 at 2:49
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    $\begingroup$ @JohnK let's close it as a dupe then! $\endgroup$ – gsamaras Oct 12 at 17:27
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    $\begingroup$ @AnonymousPhysicist I would believe the opposite to be true. The world didn't have many commercial aviation planes or routes prior to WWII. WWII itself advanced the knowledge and equipment of flying to such a great extent that I am a firm believer that if WWII hadn't happened, aviation as we know it would have been at least a decade longer in happening. $\endgroup$ – CGCampbell Oct 15 at 15:30
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Hindenburg disaster may be a candidate. This fire firmly ended the era of the Zeppelins and other great airships filled up with hydrogen that were flying transatlantic routes at that time. Helium filled airships, even if much less flammable, somehow shared the decline as well.

The aviation needed to switching into very different fixed wing aircraft, using technologies developed during WWII.

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  • $\begingroup$ Ah very interesting answer as well, thanks! $\endgroup$ – gsamaras Oct 12 at 17:26

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