World Aviation in 1989

5 January
Two United States Navy (USN) Grumman F14A Tomcat fighters shoot-down two Libyan Mikoyan MiG23s over international waters. Libya claims that the aircraft were on unarmed reconnaissance duty, while the United States claims that the aircraft were potentially hostile.

8 January
The Soviet Union announces that it will begin the destruction of its chemical weapons stockpile. Estimates of the Soviets arsenal range from 50,000 tons to ten times that. The United States is thought to possess 30,000-42,000 tons.

24 January
The Pentagon lifts a ban on the use of pin-ups to decorate United States Air Force aircraft fuselages. Feminist groups protest against the decision.

1 February
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) orders Boeing to inspect the plumbing and wiring on the 1,755 airliners they have built since 1980 following concerns that the 1988 crash of a British Midland airlines.

15 May
American Airlines becomes the 19th operator to be connected to the ‘Amadeus’ computerised reservation system.

1 July
The crowd at the Paris air show is stunned when the Soviet Sukhoi Su27 performs its ‘Cobra’ manoeuvre. The Cobra sees the aircraft transfer from level flight to a vertical attitude and back to level flight with negligible changes in altitude.

4 July
One person is killed when a Soviet Air Force Mikoyan MiG23 crashes near Courtrai in Belgium. The pilot had ejected over Polish airspace due to technical problems with the aircraft. The MiG23 was then escorted by two United States Air Force (USAF) McDonnell Douglas F15s under orders not to attack unless the aircraft was about to come down on a town.

15 July
French air-traffic controllers go on strike, causing delays and frustration for thousands of holiday makers.

17 July
The Northrop B2, the most expensive aircraft in history, at a cost of $516 million, makes its first flight.

18 August
Qantas Boeing 747-400 ‘Spirit of Australia’ flies from London Heathrow to Sydney non-stop in 19 hours 10 minutes.

22 August
The Soviet aircraft designer Alexander Yakovlev dies aged 84.

12 November
The world’s first human-powered helicopter, constructed from carbon-fibre and balsa wood, flies for the first time at California Polytechnic State university. The flight, powered by Greg McNeil, lasts for a total of 2 seconds.