AIRCRAFT: Blue Sky for Planemakers

Eighteen years ago next month, a National Airlines plane leased from Pan American took off from New York for Miami. It was a routine flight except that the plane had no propellers. Commercial jetliner service in the U.S. had begun, and with it the inescapable problem that faces people and airplanes alike: aging. About 90 jet planes currently used by major U.S. airlines are almost as old as the commercial jet age itself. The average age of the U.S. fleet is 7.9 years; hundreds of aircraft are nine to twelve years old. To...

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