Fifty years after Apollo 11 landed on the Moon, and after an eight-year hiatus, humans will again fly into space from U.S. soil, with Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic expected to begin suborbital tourist flights and Boeing and SpaceX planning to fly astronauts to the International Space Station.
Hybrid-electric or all-electric? The jury is still out on if and how to electrify aircraft propulsion, but startups including Zunum, VoltAero, Wright Electric and Eviation plan to fly testbeds or prototypes for small short-haul aircraft in a bid to revitalize regional aviation.
Early 2019 should see the first flight of Boeing’s 777X long-range big twin, with its unique folding wingtips, while industry is looking to June’s Paris Air Show for the launch of its new midmarket airplane, promised as a category-redefining widebody with narrowbody economics.
Europe will be a focus for fighters in 2019, with Saab set to begin Gripen E deliveries and Sweden expected to be among the countries lining up behind either France and Germany or the UK to begin development of a next-generation European fighter.
As Uber’s goal of conducting demonstration flights with experimental air taxis over three U.S. and international cities in 2020 draws closer, more electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing prototypes are expected to fly in 2019, joining the Vahana, Cora and others.
The megaconstellation era is set to open with the scheduled February launch of the first batch of OneWeb’s planned 600 low-Earth-orbit communications satellites, to be followed later in the year by the first of thousands of Starlink broadband smallsats planned by SpaceX.
The U.S. Navy’s MQ-25 Stingray unmanned carrier-based aerial-refueling system was one of Boeing’s three big defense wins in 2018, and the first prototype is expected to fly early in 2019, while Europe will finally get its EuroMALE program under contract during the year.
Not one but two new turboprop-powered Cessna’s in one year? In 2019 Textron Aviation plans first flights of both the single-engine Denali, powered by General Electric’s new Catalyst, and the utility SkyCourier, with a pair of Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6As.
From space transportation to utility turboprops, here are some of the aerospace and defense milestones to look forward to in 2019.
Graham leads Aviation Week's coverage of technology, focusing on engineering and technology across the aerospace industry, with a special focus on identifying technologies of strategic importance to aviation, aerospace and defense.