A Look At Some Of Air Canada’s Historical Innovations

Not every airline in the world has a specific web page dedicated to its history of innovation and the formation of the aviation industry. However, Air Canada has such a page. Officially founded in 1936 as Trans-Canada Air Lines, Air Canada has been operating for over 86 years and has an amazing number of interesting and respectable claims to its name. Let’s look at the highlights …

Safety first

It seems that Air Canada has been quite influential when it comes to some basic aviation security systems. Between 1939 and 1946, Air Canada was one of the first airlines to equip an entire fleet of pressureless aircraft equipped with stationary oxygen systems. They were installed and used by the flight crew and passengers as needed, using the “bagging principle”.

About two decades later, Air Canada was involved in the development of the multi-channel on-board recorder. In 1965, in collaboration with Royston Instruments, an English electronics company, Air Canada engineers helped create a multi-channel on-board recorder, colloquially referred to as the “black box”. Air Canada notes that the device was first installed on its DC-8 and Vanguard aircraft.


With the introduction of the DC-8F Jet Trader, Air Canada was the first in the world to use a fully cargo aircraft. Photo: Air Canada

About 25 years later, in 1990, Air Canada became the first scheduled airline to offer non-smoking flights between North America and Europe. Perhaps equally a matter of comfort, as it is immediate safety, the airline was also the first Canadian airline to ban smoking on all its charter and scheduled flights to North America and the Caribbean two years earlier, in September 1988.

Cleverness in cold weather

Experiencing fairly low temperatures and severe snowstorms, Air Canada has found ways to adapt its aircraft to cold weather conditions. Thus, it was the first airline to equip its fleet with anti-icing nozzles in front of the windshield. The installation began with Lockheed aircraft 1408 and 1808 and would clear the entire windshield from icing.

Air Canada will also be the first in the country to introduce electric anti-icing aerodynamic surfaces. It appeared with the launch in 1961 of Vickers Vanguard aircraft. The carrier claims to have a number of “first in Canada” achievements. However, this shouldn’t be too surprising given that Air Canada has always been the country’s largest airline.

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Like many “northern” carriers, Air Canada has learned to adapt to cold weather conditions. Photo: Air Canada

Transformation of ticket technologies

Electronic systems are now one of the most common ways to get proof that you have booked a seat on a flight. Although this innovation was introduced not by Air Canada, but by the world’s first computerized booking system Canadian firm.

This system was developed and manufactured in Canada by Ferranti Canada “Contributed to the huge growth of computerized and communication processes of airlines.” The implementation of the ReserVec system, developed for Trans-Canada Air Lines, was completed on January 24, 1963 and was preceded for about two years by the more well-known and ubiquitous SABER system.

We may also take the concept of a single route with several airlines as appropriate today, as this has not always been possible. With e-tickets it has become much easier. Indeed, it was in 2000 that Air Canada and United Airlines introduced the world’s first e-ticket interline. This has made airline partnerships much smoother, offering travelers more opportunities to get from one place to another.

Four years later, in 2004, Air Canada introduced the industry’s first: self-driving season tickets for multiple online flights. This will lead to the creation of season tickets with a fixed monthly payment for unlimited travel.


Air Canada was in Canada, operating the Airbus A320, the first delivery took place on January 25, 1990 in Toulouse (France). Photo: Air Canada

Then in 2007, Air Canada will become the first airline in North America to introduce electronic boarding passes for mobile check-in. Released at about the same time as Apple’s first iPhone, it allowed customers holding a mobile phone or smartphone to keep their boarding pass on the phone.

Even without discussing the status of the founder of Air Canada in the first-ever alliance of airlines, it seems that the carrier has made a great contribution to aviation and the way passengers travel the world.

Did you know of any of these Air Canada claims to fame? Let us know by leaving a comment.

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