Industry Firsts

TWA pioneered the airline industry and contributed greatly to the development of safety and passenger service.


TWA was the first airline to:

First to carry passengers on scheduled coast-to-coast service in the United States.(1930)

First to require that pilots have a flight plan, flight log, flight clearance and cockpit check list. (1930)
By 1933 TWA was the first to have developed and used advanced “flight planning” for every flight, based on a thorough analysis of weather and overall operating conditions.

First to fly and put into scheduled service the four-engine 300-mile-an-hour Lockheed Constellations on United States and transatlantic routes.

First to inaugurate airline freight service with a shipment of livestock, from St. Louis to Newark. (August 6, 1931)

First to operate regular all-cargo service. In 1935, TWA was the first to fly coast-to-coast all-cargo service, inaugurated with Ford tri-motor ”Flying Boxcars”, In 1947, TWA was the first to fly transatlantic sheduled all-cargo flights from the United States to Europe, North Africa, and Middle East.

First to fly 4-engine airplanes. In 1931 the Fokker F-32 was in scheduled. In 1940, TWA became the first to develop and use in transcontinental service  the 4-engine pressurized cabin transports for overweather flying and passengers comfort-the Boeing Stratoliner.

First to place combination lounge-sleeper planes into service for greater passenger comfort.
(1935-DC series (1951-Constellation)

First to develop and use the quick-frozen pre-cooked method of food preparation, packaging and shipping, for in-flight meal service.(1947)

First to institute an “all weather” flying research staff, including ground and pilot personnel, and a special “flying laboratory” to study thunderstorm activity. (1941)

First to organize  an airline weather department and employ a professional meteorologist. (1930) Also, TWA was the first airline to conduct extensive aircraft icing research to determine synoptic free air conditions foricing aicraft.(1932-33)

First to cooperate with the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) to develop and install an ultra high frequency blind landing system. (1934)

First to develop and use the anti-rain-static “homing” radio direction finder.

First to adopt the Sperry automatic pilot as standard equipment to reduce pilot fatigue. (1934)

First to add flight engineers to the crews of four-engine aircraft on United States routes. (1940)

First to train pilots in celestial navigation, enabling them to fly on or off-route without the aid of radio navigational or landmark aids. (1941)

First to place into operation the “teleflite” a system of instantaneous reservations. (1947)

First to develop 10,000 and 15,000-foot pressure charts for upper wing forecasting. (1939) TWA is now working on pressure charts for upper winds at 40,000-foot altitudes for jet aircraft of the future.

First to develop the automatic trailing wie antenna release device, and the elastic de-icable radio beacon antenna. (1944)

First to develop and altimeter-setting indicator which automatically indicates correct setting for the airport for which it is calibrated. (1944)

First to commercial broadcast programs to passengers in-flight, providing the passengers individual receivers. (1940)

First to develop the light-weight electrical engine synchronization indicator, now standard equipment on most airlines.

First to develop the shock mounting of all main radio units in a single radio rack, and the pub-mounted, quickly removable pilot’s switch box.

First to develop the self-contained, radiant wall, automatically controlled aircraft heating and ventilating system. (1944-45)

First to provide non-stop transcontinental air service. (October 1953)

First to propose and introduce an inexpensive one-way transcontinental excursion fare. (September 25, 1955)

First to provide non-stop transcontinental tourist service. (September 25, 1955)

First to install a Dynamometer type Engine Test Cell, resulting in greater accuracy and safety at less cost. (March 1956)

First to provide freshly brewed coffee in flight. (January 3, 1957)

First to develop “Minimum Time Route” navigation system by which prevailing air currents are utilized for greater speed and comfort in air travel.

First to provide non-stop service between San Francisco and New York. (March 20, 1959)

First to provide jet service at: San Francisco, Philadelphia, Washington/Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Kansas City. (1959)

First to fly the Atlantic in scheduled service using the Doppler radar system, a fully automated system of navigation.(October 1, 1962)

First to provide Boston to San Francisco non-stop jet service. (October 1, 1962)

First to provide non-stop service from Las Vegas to New York. (June 1, 1963)

First to provide in-flight movies.

First to become all-jet airline ininternational pasenger service with cessation of piston aircraft service on overseas routes. (October 29, 1961)

First to offer non-smoking sections aboard every aircraft in it’s fleet.

First to operate the Nation’s first ‘Flying Postoffice” during inauguration of 5-cent air mail. (1946)

First to develop the DC-1, prototype of the famous DC series (first efficient modern airliners) with the Douglas Aircraft Company.  Many features now standard on most airliners, appeared on the DC-1, including wingflaps, hydraulic line tunnels accessible from the exterior, a steam heat system, shock-mounting of enginesand a quickly removable storage battery.

First domestic airline to operate over-ocean flights around the world for Armed Forces during World War II, flying a total of 10,000 overseas flights under contract to Air Transport Command.

First to pioneer “pressure pattern” flying, and was the first to institute this on its routes of navigation – utilizing the most favorable winds. (1943) TWA was also the first to apply modern “air mass” methods of weather analysis to airline operation.(1933)

TWA, United and Bell Telephone Laboratories developed two-way high frequency radio-telephone communications in 1930. In 1937, TWA cooperated with Bell Telephone Laboratories in an early Ver High Frequency radio communications program.

First to conduct extensive high altitude experimental work, employing a special airplane rigged for this purpose. Data collected from altitude studies up to 36,000 feet contributed to the development of the turbo-supercharger, as well as high altitude flying techniques. (1932-35)

First airline in the United Sates to use experienced pilots as flight control officers to handle increased airways traffic from ground control points. (1931)

First to cooperate with the Goodrich Rubber Company in the development of the (1) rubber wing de-icer, and (2) the rubber, propeller de-icer, overshoe. (1934)

First to inaugurate “Sky Tourist” Constellation, TWA’s low-cost air transportation across the Atlantic from the United States to Europe. (1952)

First to underwrite the first book on aeronautical meteorology ever published in the United States, written by Dr. Horace R. Bayers. (1937)

First to develop the first transport tail-wheel lock, applied to the Northrop Alpha airplane.

First to conduct the first organization survey of airports, which resulted in the transport category landing and take-off runway chart.

First to inaugurate of first non-stop New York to Rome service using Lockheed 1649A aircraft. (October 2, 1957)

First to introduce extended range twin-range operations(ETOPS) as the first U.S airline to fly the Atlantic with twin engine Boeing 767’s. (1985)