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Many aviation-related events took place in 2020. The aviation industry was impacted by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Years in aviation: 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
Centuries: 20th century · 21st century · 22nd century
Decades: 1990s 2000s 2010s 2020s 2030s 2040s 2050s
Years: 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023



2 January
A Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter operated by the Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) crashes in the Wulai District in New Taipei City, Taiwan. Eight people are killed, including Taiwan's Chief of the General Staff, Gen. Shen Yi-ming.[1]
8 January
A Boeing 737-800 operating as Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 from Tehran, Iran to Kyiv, Ukraine, crashes shortly after takeoff from Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport, killing all 167 passengers and 9 crew.[2] Iran subsequently admits that the aircraft was mistakenly shot down by a surface-to-air missile.[3] The shootdown would become the deadliest aviation disaster of 2020.[4][5]
9 January
A Lockheed C-130 Hercules operated by the South African Air Force from Beni to Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo crashes upon landing at Goma International Airport. A fire which broke out on the left engine upon landing was contained and all 59 passengers and 8 crew members were safely evacuated with no casualties.[6]
23 January
A Lockheed C-130 Hercules operated by New South Wales Rural Fire Service crashed while fighting bushfires near Cooma, New South Wales in Australia. Three United States personnel were killed in the accident.[7][8]
China starts shutting down regular air traffic to and from Wuhan Airport in Hubei province due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[9]
25 January
The Boeing 777X takes off from Paine Field, Washington on its first ever flight lasting roughly three hours.[10]
26 January
Caspian Airlines Flight 6936, a McDonnell Douglas MD-83, overruns the runway on landing at Mahshahr Airport, Iran, landing on a road beyond the runway. All 144 passengers and crew survive.
27 January
An E-11A, a United States Air Force plane, crashed in the Dih Yak District, Ghazni Province, Afghanistan. At least two people were killed.[11]
28 January
At the Heli-Expo convention in Anaheim, California, Italian helicopter manufacturer Leonardo announces it will acquire Swiss helicopter company Kopter (320 people), developer of the single-engined Kopter SH09, for at least $185 million in 2020.[12]
29 January
Boeing releases its fourth quarter 2019 earnings report, including data for the full 12 months of 2019. The company made an annual loss for the first time since 1997.[13]


5 February
A Boeing 737-800 operating Pegasus Airlines Flight 2193 from Izmir skids off the runway on landing at Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen International Airport, and breaks into pieces. Three people were killed and 179 injured.[14]
12 February
Bombardier exits the commercial aviation business, selling its share in the A220 programme to Airbus for $591 million.[15]
17 February
The solar-powered BAE Systems PHASA-35 HAPS built by BAE Systems makes its maiden flight from the Woomera Test Range in South Australia.[16]


5 March
UK regional carrier Flybe ceases operations of its 60 Q400 and E-Jets, and files for administration after the UK government rejected a £100 million ($129 million) loan, amid the COVID-19 outbreak.[17]
11 March
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, US President Donald Trump announces a travel ban from Europe's Schengen area to the United States from 13 March, for 30 days.[18] Numerous other countries implement similar bans in the following days.
13 March
American Airlines accelerates the retirement of their 757s and 767s, and later the A330s and E190s, most of the fleet was inherited from US Airways.[19]
17 March
Trans States Airlines announces it will shut down operations on 1 April amid the coronavirus crisis, nine months earlier than previously planned due to a pilot shortage and consolidation.[20]
18 March
The average daily number of flights in Eurocontrol airspace falls below half that of the previous year, due to travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.[21]
19 March
Compass Airlines, owned by Trans States Holdings and flying regional routes for American Airlines as American Eagle from Los Angeles, writes to its employees it will shut down completely on 7 April.[22]


14 April
The Government of South Africa refuses a request by South African Airways for R10 billion (600 Million USD) in emergency funding needed to continue operation of the airline, which was already insolvent and undergoing business rescue when all flights were suspended due to the coronavirus.[23]
15 April
As demand continues to collapse due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on aviation, over two-thirds of the worldwide fleet of 22,000 mainline passenger airliners are inactive, leaving 7,635 in operation. Europe is most affected, with less than 15% of aircraft operating, compared to 45% in North America and 49% in Asia. A greater proportion of narrowbody aircraft are inactive (37%) than widebody aircraft (27%).[24]
17 April
The Government of Kazakhstan revokes the air operator's certificate of Bek Air and all airworthiness certificates for its Fokker 100 aircraft, citing the airline's failure to correct safety violations discovered after the fatal 2019 crash of Bek Air Flight 2100.[25]
23 April
The US Federal Aviation Administration reduces the operating hours of about 100 air traffic control facilities due to the drastic drop in air traffic caused by the coronavirus pandemic.[26]
25 April
Boeing announces it has terminated the planned Boeing–Embraer joint venture with Embraer, after the April 24 delay expired.[27]
27 April
In the first total closure of a US commercial airport for pandemic-related reasons, local leaders close Westchester County Airport to airlines in order to expedite a major runway repaving project, citing the indefinite suspension of almost all airline flights there.[28]


4 May
An Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia, operated by East African Express Airways on an air charter flight delivering pandemic relief supplies, crashes on approach to Berdale, Somalia, killing all 2 crew and 4 non-revenue passengers on board. On 10 May, a leaked African Union peacekeeping force report alleges that the aircraft was mistakenly shot down by ground troops of the Ethiopian National Defense Force who were operating outside the peacekeeping force's authority.[29]
5 May
The term "preighter" is coined by Lufthansa exec Carsten Spohr to describe the increasingly common practice of using passenger aircraft to operate cargo-only flights.[30]
17 May
The prototype Cessna 408 SkyCourier makes its first flight from Beech Factory Airport, to be used for testing leading to certification along five additional test airframes.[31]
18 May
The Pipistrel E-811 is the first electric aircraft engine to be awarded a type certificate by EASA for use in general aviation. The E-811 powers the Pipistrel Velis Electro.[32][33]
22 May
Pakistan International Airlines Flight 8303, an Airbus A320 flying from Lahore to Karachi with 91 passengers and 8 crew, reports failures of both engines while in final approach and crashes into a residential area. Ninety-seven people on board are killed in the accident, while two passengers survived with injuries.[34]


4 June
ZIPAIR Tokyo, a subsidiary of Japan Airlines, begins operations with the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.[35][36]
10 June
The Velis Electro variant of the two-seat Pipistrel Virus is the first electric aircraft to secure certification, from the EASA.[37]
11 June
The AIDC T-5 Brave Eagle, a jet trainer, makes its maiden flight in Taiwan.[38]
30 June
Aeroméxico files for bankruptcy in the United States due to pandemic-related losses, but expects to continue flying during restructuring.[39]


1 July
After 1500 hours of flight tests and demo flights with three prototypes, the Airbus Helicopters H160 is type certified by the EASA on 1 July 2020, before FAA certification and delivery to a US customer planned for the same year.[40]
2 July
The Stratos 716X single-engine kit business jet made a 22 minute maiden flight in Redmond, Oregon, climbing to 13,500 ft and launching a several month flight-test program.[41]


7 August
Air India Express Flight 1344, a Boeing 737 flying from Dubai International Airport to Calicut International Airport, suffers a runway excursion upon landing. Both pilots and 18 passengers are killed in the accident.[42]
11 August
Azul launches a regional subsidiary with both a passenger and a cargo branch, dubbed Azul Conecta. It flies Cessna 208s.[43]
22 August
An Antonov An-26 operating a South West Aviation cargo flight from Juba to Aweil, South Sudan, crashes upon take-off, killing 8 of the 9 occupants on board.[44]
27 August
The Otto Celera 500L, an experimental high-efficiency business and utility aircraft, is unveiled.[45]


24 September
Retrofitted Piper M350 Malibu completes first commercial passenger hydrogen fuel cell-powered zero emissions flight from Cranfield, Bedfordshire.[citation needed]
United Airlines declares that it will be the first US airline to roll out a COVID-19 testing program for passengers, giving flyers from San Francisco bound for Hawaii the option to order an at-home testing kit, or to reserve a time for a rapid test at the airport.[46]
30 September
US firm General Atomics bought from RUAG the Dornier 228 production line in Oberpfaffenhofen, including the transfer of all 450 employees, pending regulatory approval.[47]
Unable to raise adequate funds to implement its business rescue plan, bankrupt South African Airways indefinitely suspends all flight operations except previously scheduled repatriation and cargo flights.[48]


1 October
Boeing announces the 787 will be produced only in North Charleston from mid-2021 due to the impact of the pandemic, as its production rate fall to six per month.[49]
Federal government COVID-19 pandemic relief for US airlines expires with the United States Congress deadlocked over extending further aid. Various US airlines respond by commencing massive layoffs and furloughs, with American Airlines to cut 19,000 jobs, and United Airlines to cut 13,000.[50]
5 October
AirAsia Japan permanently ceases flights due to mounting losses stemming from COVID-19 international flight restrictions.[51]
8 October
As several airlines accelerate retirement of the Boeing 747-400 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the last two 744s of British Airways - the type's largest operator until this point - leave London Heathrow, officially completing BA's retirement of this type.[52]
31 October
After almost 10 years of construction-related delays and €4 billion in cost overruns, Berlin Brandenburg Airport opens to commercial passenger flights, to replace both Berlin Tegel Airport and the recently closed Berlin Schönefeld Airport as the primary international airport for the city of Berlin and the state of Brandenburg.[53]


18 November
The Federal Aviation Administration clears the Boeing 737 MAX to return to flight after its grounding.[54]


3 December
Ryanair orders 75 Boeing 737 MAX 8-200s, the first large order since the grounding, for a list value of $7bn but an actual value estimated at $3bn or less.[55]
7 December
Chuck Yeager, the first man to break the sound barrier in level flight, dies at the age of 97. He achieved this record in a Bell X-1 rocket plane on 14 October 1947, winning the Collier Trophy afterwards.[56]
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Paris Air Show announces the cancellation of the June 2021 event, with the next event to be held in June 2023.[57]
9 December
Brazilian Gol Transportes Aéreos becomes the first airline to resume scheduled flights of the Boeing 737 MAX since its grounding in 2019.[58]
10 December
South African low cost carrier Lift flies its first flight.[59]
11 December
Mexican airline Interjet indefinitely suspends flights after four years of sustained operating losses.[60]
17 December
The Indian Ministry of Defence endorses the conversion of six Airbus A320s formerly of Air India into airborne early warning and control aircraft for the Indian Armed Forces, replacing a 2015 plan to use two new-built Airbus A330s.[61]
18 December
The Indonesian Directorate General of Civil Aviation issues a type certificate for the Indonesian Aerospace N-219, derived from the CASA C-212 Aviocar.[62]
19 December
Canadian airline OWG, an acronym for Off We Go, begins operations, flying to Cuba with the Boeing 737-400. The airline is a subsidiary of Canadian airline Nolinor.[63]
27 December
The US Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 provides another $15 billion in aid for US airlines. American Airlines and United Airlines begin to recall thousands of workers laid off with the October expiration of the previous aid package, and Southwest Airlines rescinds anticipated 2021 pay cuts and furloughs.[64]
29 December
American Airlines resumes scheduled 737 MAX flights, the first US airline to do so.[65]

First flights

See also


  1. Ranter, Harro. "Accident Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk 933, 02 Jan 2020". aviation-safety.net. Aviation Safety Network. Archived from the original on 2020-01-02. Retrieved 2020-01-05.
  2. "Ukrainian Boeing plane crashes in Iran, 176 people dead". CNN. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  3. "Iran admits 'unintentionally' shooting down plane". 11 January 2020.
  4. Ranter, Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 737-8KV (WL) UR-PSR Sabashahr". aviation-safety.net. Aviation Safety Network. Archived from the original on 2020-01-08. Retrieved 2021-01-14.
  5. Ranter, Harro. "2020". aviation-safety.net. Aviation Safety Network. Archived from the original on 2020-01-20. Retrieved 2021-01-14.
  6. "UN: South African military plane crash-lands in Congo". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 11 January 2020.
  7. "Three dead as air tanker fighting bushfires crashes near Snowy Mountains". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 23 January 2020.
  8. "Three firefighters dead after Large Air Tanker crashes while fighting bushfires in southern NSW". ABC News. Retrieved 23 January 2020.
  9. Jakob Wert (23 January 2020). "China shuts down Wuhan Airport amid virus outbreak". International Flight Network. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  10. "New Boeing 777X Completes Successful First Flight" (Press release). Boeing. January 25, 2020.
  11. Hradecky, Simon. "No Afghan Ariana Airlines Crash". Aviation Herald. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  12. Pilar Wolfsteller (28 January 2020). "Leonardo acquires Kopter in a deal worth at least $185m". Flightglobal.
  13. Jakob Wert (29 January 2020). "Boeing posts first annual loss since 1997 in 2019 earnings". International Flight Network. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  14. "Three dead, 179 hurt as plane skids off runway". BBC News. 6 February 2020.
  15. "Airbus and the Government of Québec become sole owners of the A220 Programme as Bombardier completes its strategic exit from Commercial Aviation". ir.bombardier.com (Press release). Bombardier Inc. Retrieved 13 February 2020.
  16. Dan Thisdell (17 February 2020). "BAE joins high-altitude race with maiden PHASA-35 flight". Flightglobal.
  17. Alfred Chua (5 March 2020). "Beleaguered Flybe ceases operations". Flightglobal.
  18. Pilar Wolfsteller (12 March 2020). "US bans all travel from Europe". Flightglobal.
  19. Ben (13 March 2020). "American Accelerates 757 & 767 Retirement". One Mile At A Time.
  20. Pilar Wolfsteller (17 March 2020). "Trans States Airlines to fold in April". Flightglobal.
  21. David Kaminski-Morrow (20 March 2020). "European flight activity halves under coronavirus onslaught". Flightglobal.
  22. Pilar Wolfsteller (19 March 2020). "Compass Airlines to shut down operations". Flightglobal.
  23. Dlulane, Bonga (14 April 2020). "Gordhan rejects SAA's request for R10 billion". Eyewitness News. South Africa. Retrieved 27 April 2020.
  24. Max Kingsley-Jones (15 April 2020). "Mixed fortunes globally as active fleet drops towards 7,000 aircraft". Flightglobal.
  25. Sadikhova, Nargiz (17 April 2020). "Operations certificate of Kazakhstan's Bek Air recalled following plane crash". en.trend.az. Baku, Azerbaijan: Trend News Agency. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  26. "FAA to scale back ATC service as traffic declines". aopa.org. Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. 23 April 2020. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  27. "Boeing Terminates Agreement to Establish Joint Ventures with Embraer" (Press release). Boeing. April 25, 2020.
  28. Negroni, Christine (23 April 2020). "Few Travelers, Few Flights and Now, a Total Airport Shutdown". The New York Times. New York City. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  29. Dahir, Abdi Latif (10 May 2020). "Ethiopian Troops May Have Shot Down Aid Plane in Somalia, Report Says". The New York Times. New York City. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  30. McWhirter, Alex (5 May 2020). "Lufthansa coins "preighter" term for passenger-cargo flights". Business Traveller. Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  31. "First Cessna SkyCourier twin utility turboprop takes flight" (Press release). Textron Aviation. May 17, 2020.
  32. "TCDS for E811 engine, model 268MVLC" (PDF). European Union Aviation Safety Agency. 18 May 2020. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  33. Calderwood, Dave (9 July 2020). "Pipistrel offers type certified electric motor". Seager Publishing. FLYER Magazine. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  34. Simon Hradecky (May 22, 2020). "Crash: PIA A320 at Karachi on May 22nd 2020, impacted residential area during final approach". The Aviation Herald. Retrieved May 24, 2020.
  35. "Japan's New LCC Zipair Completes Maiden Flight". Simple Flying. 2020-06-04. Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  36. "ZIPAIR Launches Inaugural Service With Just 2 Passengers". Simple Flying. 2020-10-16. Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  37. Kate Sarsfield (10 June 2020). "Pipistrel Velis Electro earns first all-electric aircraft type certification". Flightglobal.
  38. Greg Waldron (11 June 2020). "Taiwan's Brave Eagle trainer conducts first flight". Flightglobal.
  39. Martínez Garbuno, Daniel (1 July 2020). "Breaking: Aeromexico Files For Chapter 11 Bankruptcy". Simple Flying. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  40. "The H160 receives EASA approval" (Press release). Airbus. 1 July 2020.
  41. Kate Sarsfield (3 July 2020). "Stratos 716X makes its maiden sortie". Flightglobal.
  42. "India begins examination of plane's black box after deadly crash". Reuters. 9 August 2020.
  43. "Azul Launches New Regional Carrier Having Reached Agreement With Lessors". Simple Flying. 2020-08-12. Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  44. Perton, Ted (22 August 2020). "At Least 17 Dead After Plane Crash in South Sudan". SamChui.com.
  45. Hemmerdinger, Jon (28 August 2020). "Otto Aviation reveals Celera business aircraft with super-efficient 'laminar flow'". FlightGlobal. Retrieved 7 October 2020.
  46. "United Airlines to be first U.S. airline with COVID-19 testing program for passengers". CBS News. Retrieved 24 September 2020.
  47. Murdo Morrison (16 October 2020). "General Atomics buys RUAG's Dornier 228 programme and German MRO business". Flightglobal.
  48. Magome, Mogomotsi (30 September 2020). "South African Airways Suspends Operations Amid Huge Debt". usnews.com. U.S. News & World Report. Associated Press. Retrieved 9 June 2021.
  49. "Boeing to Consolidate 787 Production in South Carolina in 2021" (Press release). Boeing. Oct 1, 2020.
  50. Arnold, Kyle (30 September 2020). "American Airlines says it will start furloughing 19,000 workers Thursday". The Dallas Morning News. Dallas, Texas. Retrieved 7 October 2020.
  51. Loh, Chris (5 October 2020). "AirAsia Closes Japanese Subsidiary With Immediate Effect". Simple Flying. Retrieved 7 October 2020.
  52. "Final flight for British Airways' last two Heathrow-based Boeing 747 planes". BBC News. 8 October 2020.
  53. Lopez, Julyssa; O'Hare, Maureen (30 October 2020). "Nearly a decade late, Berlin's Brandenburg Airport finally opens (during a pandemic)". cnn.com. CNN. Retrieved 31 October 2020.
  54. "Boeing 737-8 and 737-9 Airplanes: Return to Service" (PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. Nov 18, 2020.
  55. Scott Hamilton (Dec 3, 2020). "Ryanair orders 737 MAX, giving boost to Boeing". Leeham News.
  56. Greg Waldron (8 December 2020). "Supersonic pioneer Chuck Yeager passes away at 97". Flightglobal.
  57. "Cancellation of the 2021 edition" (PDF) (Press release). Paris Air Show. 7 December 2020.
  58. "Boeing 737 Max returns to skies almost two years after global fleet was grounded due to crashes". www.abc.net.au. 2020-12-10. Retrieved 2020-12-30.
  59. "South Africa's New Lift Livery Debuted On 31-Year-Old Airbus A320". Simple Flying. 2020-12-08. Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  60. Martínez Garbuno, Daniel (27 April 2021). "Mexico's Interjet Approves Entering Bankruptcy Proceedings". Simple Flying. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  61. Ray, Kalyan (17 December 2020). "Defence Ministry allows DRDO to convert six A320 family aircraft into advanced airborne radar". Deccan Herald.
  62. "Indonesia certifies N219 regional turboprop". Flightglobal. 28 December 2020.
  63. "OWG Officially Begins Operations With Flights To Cuba". Simple Flying. 2020-12-19. Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  64. Arnold, Kyle (28 December 2020). "Southwest Airlines won't need furloughs and wage cut in 2021 after Trump signs stimulus package". The Dallas Morning News. Dallas, Texas. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
  65. Chokshi, Niraj (2020-12-29). "Boeing 737 Max Resumes Flying U.S. Passengers After 2-Year Halt". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-12-30.
  66. "General Dynamics Announces Gulfstream G700 First Flight" (Press release). Gulfstream. February 14, 2020. Archived from the original on February 15, 2020.
  67. "Новый Ил-114-300 совершил первый полет" (in Russian). RIA Novosti. 16 December 2020. Retrieved 16 December 2020.

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