ITSEEMS at first glance somewhat premature to rank the new art of flying among the accepted and recognized branches of industry; but on close examination of the actual state of aviation affairs at present there is found ample reason for doing so. In the past three years an astonishingly large field of commercial and business activity has been built up, that has to do solely with aeronautics. There are few who have stopped to realize the suggestive fact that more than half a million men are now actively engaged in some industrial enterprise that has to do with. navigation of the air. To fully appreciate the significance of the commercial side of aviation, a knowledge, or at least an acquaintance, must be had with demands on a flying machine, its uses and the commodities whose manufacture, sale or exchange constitute the trade." Aeroplanes at present are used in three distinct ways for sport or convenience, in war or postal service, and as a means of profit in exhibitions, etc. The use of the aeroplane by sportsmen and its use by individuals or corporations as a convenience, is the field best developed at present, and for which .the greatest future is predicted. The use of aeroplanes in war seems already definitely assured. Exhibition flying, however, is likely, and in fact has begun to decline, although races if sufficiently exciting are likely to persist. A great impetus to the use of aeroplanes by sportsmen is bound to come soon, with the further perfecting of the hydro-aeroplane. The Trade. The market for aeroplanes is of considerable magnitude, as indicated by the volume of sales made by the various companies. M. Bleriot has sold several hundred aeroplanes since the spring of 1909, when he first began manufacturing them on a large scale. He has almost been outdone by the Voisins and Henri Far-man, while the enterprise of Esnault Pelterie, Sommer, Breguet, Nieuport, and a score of other constructors in France brings the total of. actual sales to a surprisingly large figure. A single-seater Bleriot monoplane costs 24,000 francs, and a two-seater, 28,000 francs. This is also the price of Voisin biplanes. A Breguet biplane costs about $6,000 and an Antoinette monoplane is even more expensive. I l general, the range of prices in France is from 15,000 to 30,000 francs. In England the cost of all-British machines like the Valkyrie and Howard Wright runs from $1,500 upward, the price of English made machines being much lower than for those of foreign make. In the United States there are not over a dozen large and established manufacturing firms, with the Wright, Curtiss and Burgess companies as recognized leaders. The Burgess Co. has sold more than thirty machines, the Wright 0o. two or three times as many, and the Curtiss firm also a considerable number. The average price of American machines is $5,000, although the Burgess Co. charges $7,500 for a biplane of the Wright type equipped with a Gnome motor. The sales here are at present much less than abroad. It may be conservatively estimated that the sales of aeroplanes to date, both here and abroad, amounts to about 1,500. Placing the average price paid for these machines at $5,000, it becomes evident that the volume of business is represented by an outlay of well over $7,000,000. In England, for example, the import trade from January to August, 1911, is represented by $177,000, and the export trade by $70,000, thus giving an insight into the magnitude of the trade between England and foreign countries. The exports of France and the imports of America are greater, all statistics proving that France leads the world in the aeroplane industry. The Bleriot factory employs about 600 men, and is replete with the most up-to-date facilities. The Wright Company has an equally efficient plant of modern buildings, shops and assembly ;rooms. In fact the growth of most aeroplane factories has been phenomenal, and yet the real lasting market for the aeroplane has been but slightly reached. Greater even than the trade in aeroplaning, as a unit, has been the activity in the supply and demand for aeroplane accessories from motors and propellers to the minutest parts of metal or wood. There are fifty or more established firms in this country alone, doing a large business in parts of aeroplanes, like ribs, struts, joints, etc. As in France, propellers are being designed and manufactured by more than ten firms devoted to this alone. In France the Chauviere Company is a large corporation employing. many hundred men, with extensive shops, and turning out countless propellers for all types of aircraft. Many of these separately manufactured parts never get to be used in a full fledged aeroplane, but serve merely for purposes of experiment. The motor trade is also large, especially in France. The Gnome company pays dividends that few industrials ever reach, and its business grows apace. Many American motors are showing excellent qualities and are much preferred here to the higher priced foreign motors. Aeroplane supply houses abroad have ceased to be (Continued on page 355.)
This article was originally published with the title "The Business Side of Aviation"