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Commercial Aviation
With Special Reference to the Philippines and the Netherland Indies

by H. Nieuwenhuis
Date: 3/10/2012

The first great revolution in transport came with the invention of the steam engine which resulted in the practically complete conquest of both land and sea. The second revolution is to be attributed to the invention of the airplane, which has resulted in the conquest of the air and the equalization of transport, whether over land or water.

The history of aviation so far may be considered in three phases. The first of these opened in 1903 when the two Wright brothers succeeded in keeping a very primitive apparatus in the air for twelve seconds. Thereafter came a series of notable individual achievements by bold pioneers, the outstanding one being Bleirot’s crossing of the English Channel in 1909.

The second phase covered the World War period. At the outbreak of hostilities the belligerents began using the airplane for reconnaissance purposes. The importance of the airplane as a means of attack was not at first realized, and the story goes that during the first weeks of the war hostile pilots waved their hands at each other in greeting. The realization, however, was not long delayed, and thereafter neither money nor effort was spared in transforming the airplane into a machine of destruction. Speed and load capacity were rapidly increased, and everything possible was done to improve dependability.

It was also soon understood that the airplane would play a very important part after peace was established, and shortly after the close of the war specially adapted airplanes were already available for commercial traffic. With the establishment of the first airway companies, the third phase was ushered in. In 1919, exactly ten years after Bleirot’s adventurous flight, the Royal Dutch Airlines started the first regular service between Amsterdam and London.

Although technically aviation had already been brought to a fairly high state of development, it appeared that this alone was not sufficient, there being another problem that has to be solved, namely, that of organization. The need for adequate organization became even more apparent when it was seen that the great advantages of this new means of conveyance was not to be found in short, local connections, but in long routes, and that air-traffic was to be essentially international.

… …

In the Far East, too, the airplane is already playing an important role, but there is still ample scope for aviation development, especially in view of the growing importance of the countries around the Pacific in world trade.

In this connection, attention should be drawn to the special geographic position of the Philippines and the Netherlands Indies within the great triangle formed by America, Australia, and Eastern Asia. In the near future, this vast region will also, no doubt, be covered with an extensive airnet. It is up to the Philippines and the Netherlands Indies to see to it that they get their share of the coming traffic.

With this aim, and to prevent the planning of air lines … that would omit the Philippine and East Indian Archipelagos, two things are necessary. First, up-to-date ground organizations must be provided, and, second, air lines have to be established. Thus an important link will be made available in the already described triangle.

In the Philippines there are already two local airway companies, but the ground organization might still be greatly improved.

In the Netherlands Indies, the Royal Netherlands Indies Airways has, during its seven years of existence, established several lines on and between Java and Sumatra, which also touch at Singapore, while a line is shortly to be opened between Java and Borneo. In order to meet the requirements of modern aircraft, the ground organization is being improved, new landing fields are being built, existing fields are being enlarged, provisions are being made for radio services, weather reports, etc.

The Netherlands Indies are moreover touched by two transcontinental airlines, the Royal Dutch Airlines, which maintains a regular twice-a-week service between Holland and Java, and by the Qantas Empire Airways of Australia which maintains a weekly service between Australia and Singapore, linking up there with the Imperial Airways which operates a twice-a-week service between London and Singapore.

In view of the projected regular airservice of Pan American airways between the United States and Manila, it seems obvious that the Governments of the Philippines and the Netherlands Indies should cooperate in establishing a connection between their two great Archipelagos. Such a connection would be of very great importance for international traffic as it would link up with airservices to and from every continent.

Something should be said of government support of commercial aviation, which, being after all still in its teens, is not self-supporting as yet. This support should be not only in the form of establishing adequate ground organization. The construction of landing fields, the organization of radio and meteorological services, etc., should be effected by the Government, as is done in most other countries. In this respect there is a very close resemblance between aviation and shipping. What would our harbors look like if every steamship company had to provide its own quays, buoys, lighthouses, etc.! The Government should look after the ground facilities for aviation. Landing and housing fees could be charged in the same way as harbor charges are imposed on ships.

With commercial aviation being developed along the suggested lines in both countries and close cooperation between the Governments of the Philippines and the Netherlands Indies, a most important link could shortly be established which would unite several of the major airlines of the world.

Source: Philippine Magazine, Vol. XXXIII, No. 1 (333), January 1936

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