|Aircraft||First Commercial Service||Speed (km/hr)||Maximum Range at Full Payload (km)||Seating Capacity|
|Lockheed L-649 Constellation||1943||560||8,200||95|
|McDonnell Douglas DC-10||1971||908||7,415||260|
Source: adapted from T.R. Leinbach and J.T. Bowen (2004) Airspaces: Air Transport, Technology and Society, in D.B. Brunn, S.L. Cutter and J.W. Harrington (eds) Geography and Technology, Dordretch, The Netherlands: Kluwer.
The design and operational efficiency of aircraft have substantially improved. The main contemporary improvement of aircraft does not concern speed, but range and particularly fuel consumption. For aircraft that have been recently designed, this implies the usage of composite materials such as carbon fibers. If each plane was flown an average of 10 hours per day, a Boeing 707 could perform 240% more passenger-kilometers in a year than a Douglas DC-7, a Boeing 747 performs 250% more than a 707, and an Airbus A380 is able to perform 50% more than a first-generation 747. In practice, longer-range aircraft are flown more hours per day than shorter-range aircraft since shorter-range aircraft have to spend more time in ground operations.