Twenty Changes in Twenty Years: Private Aviation and Beyond

Dec 31, 2019 | News/Events

As the close of another decade approaches, we pause to admire the advances that have improved the private aviation industry. Jet Linx has seen a lot of internal change, but there has been far more shifting externally. Aviation has changed drastically in the last two decades, but all for the better.


Since the turn of the century – aviation has been made safer and more enjoyable for all involved. From technological advances to changes in regulations, the industry continues to transform. Here are twenty defining moments, improvements, and concepts that have shaped the private aviation industry – and aviation as a whole – as we know it.

1. Safety Management Systems (SMS)

Designed to manage safety elements in the workplace, SMS touches on policy, objectives, plans, procedures, organization, and responsibilities. This businesslike approach to safety is woven into the fabric of an organization. It eventually becomes part of the culture, changing the way that people do their jobs. The FAA Aviation Safety Organization issued a final rule published on January 8, 2015. This required operators to conduct operations under Part 121 (scheduled air carrier (airliners)) to develop and implement a Safety Management System. Jet Linx is proud to have implemented a SMS as early as 2005. This came before the first ARGUS Platinum rating.


The ARGUS Platinum Safety Seal, the highest safety rating in private aviation.

The ARGUS Platinum Safety Seal, the highest safety rating in private aviation.

2. Synthetic Vision Systems (SVS)

SVS acts as computer mediated reality system. In other terms, pilots can see clear 3D views of their flying environments. This vastly improves situational awareness by using terrain, obstacle, geopolitical, hydrological and other databases. A typical SVS application uses a set of databases stored on board the aircraft, an image generator computer, and a display. In 2005, a synthetic vision system was installed on a Gulfstream V test aircraft as part of NASA’s “Turning Goals Into Reality” program. At the end of 2007 and early 2008, the FAA certified the (SV-PFD) system for the G350/G450 and G500/G550 business jet aircraft.

3. Electronic Flight Bags 

Lightweight and easily-updatable electronics such as the iPad have replaced cumbersome flight bags. Old flight bags weighed up to forty pounds, mainly in paper weight. Jet Linx issues iPads as replacements for traditional flight bags, improving efficiency and organization on board. Clutter in the cockpit is never a good thing when it comes to aviation!

4. Flight Sharing

The concept of flight sharing transformed the private aviation industry in 2014 with the beginning of companies like FlyteNow and AirPooler. Much like how fractional ownership allowed greater access to private aviation, so too did flight sharing. Jet Linx released the OpenSeat Exchange in 2019 to all Jet Card clients. The model is a secure, peer-to-peer exchange of open seats in the Jet Linx community. The Jet Linx Open Seat Exchange is available exclusively through the Jet Linx Mobile App, another advancement in client-facing technology.

5. Glass Cockpits

Glass cockpits featuring electrical (digital) flight instrument displays began to replace analog dials and gauges around 2002. The average aircraft in the mid-1970s had more than 100 cockpit instruments and controls. At the time, primary flight instruments were already crowded with indicators, crossbars, and symbols. This growing number of cockpit elements competed for cockpit space and pilot attention. Cockpits with touch screens and liquid crystal displays are now standard. However, they only began appearing in private aircraft at the beginning of the century. Many private aircraft produced without glass cockpits have been retrofitted. The glass cockpit is now standard even in small aircraft.

6. RNAV (Area Navigation)

RNAV allows an aircraft to navigate from point to point, defined by latitude and longitude, independent of any ground-based system.  RNAV approaches, sometimes called GPS approaches, began to rise in popularity in 2003. Instead of guiding an aircraft to landing using instruments, private jets are able to access small airfields in inclement weather by using GPS approaches. This increases the efficiency of every flight by saving flight time and preventing aircraft from diverting when possible.

7. Ground Proximity Warning Systems (GPWS)

GPWS are designed to alert pilots if their aircraft is in immediate danger of impact with the ground or another obstacle. In March 2000, the U.S. FAA amended operating rules. This required all U.S. registered turbine-powered airplanes with six or more passenger seats to have an FAA-approved Terrain Awareness Warning System (TAWS). TAWS was a much-needed addition to the older GPWS systems, and since 2005, it has been a requirement for all aircraft. Today, 18,000 commercial, military, business, and general aviation aircraft have TAWS.

8. ADS-B

ADS-B stands for Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast, and despite the long acronym, it is simply a new way of managing air traffic. ADS-B is different from radar in that it does not depend on controllers in a central location watching radar scopes. Instead, aircraft self-report their GPS position in a networked environment, so pilots can see the entire air traffic picture around them. Final rules governing ADS-B were established in 2011. These rules stated that all aircraft flying in Class A, B, and C airspace needed to have an ADS-B system by 2020.

9. Heads-up Displays (HUD)

HUDs are transparent displays that present data without requiring pilots to look away from their usual viewpoints. The origin of the name stems from a pilot being able to view information with the head positioned “up” and looking forward. As opposed to looking down at instruments. Pilot’s eyes do not need to refocus to view exterior terrain after looking at the optically nearer instruments. While HUD displays have been common in military aircraft for decades, they were expensive and not commonly installed in private jets. However, HUD have become more common in newer aircraft.

10. Celebrating Twenty Years in Private Aviation

In 2019, Jet Linx Aviation celebrated its twentieth year in business. Founded in 1999 by Denny Walker, the operation began with one jet at a private terminal in Omaha. In 2019, Jet Linx opened its 18th Base location and manages more than 100 aircraft. With 500 team members and 2,200+ clients, Jet Linx is now the second-largest operator of its kind in the United States. The business model has proven a successful formula for delivering the best service in private aviation.


Jet Linx celebrates 20 years of service and safety.

Jet Linx celebrates 20 years of dedication to safety and service.

11. The Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT is a rising technology that allows devices to ‘talk’ to one another, and a major application is in aircraft maintenance and repair. Machinery, computers, and mobile devices working concurrently to connect and share data allow for quicker and more efficient fixes. With this technology, a mechanical issue can be alerted to ground crews even before a plane lands, or perhaps even before a problem occurs.

12. The Airbus A380

The A380 is delivered in 2005, dethroning the Boeing 747 in the long-haul market. The double decker aircraft is certified to seat up to 853 passengers and has a range of eight thousand nautical miles. With 40% more usable space than the 747, some airports were forced to upgrade their facilities to accommodate the flying giant.

13. Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner

The 787 is 50% composite materials, representing a revolution in design. Carbon fiber-reinforced polymers that are both lighter and more durable than traditional aluminum. They also allow lower cabin pressure, more space, 20% greater fuel efficiency, and bigger windows. These advances would not be possible in an airplane traditionally built of aluminum.

14. The X-57

NASA introduced the X-57, the first all-electric configuration aircraft. A goal of the X-57 project is to help develop certification standards for emerging electric aircraft markets. This includes urban air mobility vehicles, which also rely on complex distributed electric propulsion systems. NASA will share the aircraft’s electric-propulsion-focused design and airworthiness process with regulators and industry professionals. This will advance certification approaches for aircraft utilizing distributed electric propulsion.

15. Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen)

This modernization of America’s air transportation system was designed to make flying even safer, more efficient, and more predictable. The FAA plans to continue implementing cutting-edge technologies, procedures, and policies that benefit passengers, the aviation industry, and the environment through 2025 and beyond. Learn more about this initiative here.

16. All-Female Spacewalk

In October of 2019, NASA conducts an historic first all-female spacewalk with astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir. During the mission, the pair replaced the power regulator on the International Space Station, which had been in operation since 2000. This milestone advances a long history of female involvement in aviation.

17. UPS Drone Deliveries

The United Parcel Service (UPS) wins FAA approval for drone deliveries nationwide. UPS says it will initially set up its drone delivery program specifically for hospital campuses nationwide before expanding to other industries outside of healthcare. The FAA has yet to write regulations to allow commercial drone flights above populated areas.

18. SpaceX Falcon 9

In 2010, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket achieves Earth orbit nine minutes into its maiden flight. This drew praise from NASA, the White House and others eager for the company to start resupplying the International Space Station.  SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says the launch “bodes well”. Musk also said it is a “huge boost of confidence” for plans to privatize launches to the space station.

19. Scramjet Engine

In 2002, the first successful flight test of a hyper sonic scram jet engine occurs in Australia.  This air-breathing scram jet engine burns hydrogen fuel. This could theoretically power aircraft at Mach 8 (6,138 miles per hour) for two-hour trans-Atlantic flights.

20. The Solar Impulse 2

The Solar Impulse 2 becomes the first aircraft to fly around the world using no traditional fuels. In 2016, the Swiss solar-powered experimental aircraft completed the 25,000 mile journey in about one year. The lightweight aircraft weighs about as much as a large SUV, but has the wingspan of a Boeing 747.

Jet Linx looks forward to even further advances in 2020 and beyond. When it comes to private aviation, our team is always searching for ways to serve our clients at higher and higher levels. For those seeking the best private jet travel company in the skies, look no further than Jet Linx for private aviation solutions. Become a Jet Card client today!