2013 in aviation

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This is a list of aviation-related events from 2013:



1 January
2 January
3 January
  • Press observers report that the Myanmar Air Force has conducted daily strikes against rebel Kachin Independence Army forces in northern Myanmar since 28 December 2012.[4]
  • An American unmanned aerial vehicle strike in Rada'a, Yemen, kills three al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula members, one of them a local commander.[5]
  • In the Syrian Civil War, the Syrian Air Force conducts two air strikes on the rebel stronghold of Douma, Syria, killing 12 people.[6] Syrian rebels claim to have killed the commander of the Syrian government air base at Taftanaz.[6]
4 January
10 January
11 January
12 January
  • French Mirage 2000Ds strike Islamist positions around Konna, Mali.[12]
13 January
  • Syrian Air Force jets bomb the suburbs of Damascus and a marketplace in the town of Azaz, killing at least 20 people and injuring 99 in Azaz.[14][15]
  • French Mirage 2000D fighter-bombers hit Islamist targets in northern Mali, including attacks around Léré and Douentza and a strike on an Islamist rear headquarters in Gao, where they inflict dozens of casualties. French military transport aircraft bring several planeloads of French troops into Bamako.[12][13]
14 January
  • A Syrian government airstrike hits a house south of Damascus, killing at least five adults and eight children.[15]
  • Rafales join Mirage 200D jets and Gazelle attack helicopters as the French air campaign in Mali expands to strike Islamist forces in the central part of the country.[13]
16 January
17 January
19 January
  • The Syrian Air Force strikes a mosque and a school building sheltering Syrian refugees in Salqin, Syria, killing and wounding dozens.[22]
  • Two American unmanned aerial vehicle strikes during the evening kill a total of eight people in Yemen' Ma'rib province, including at least two members of al-Qaeda.[23]
20 January
  • A Syrian Air Force strike against rebel-held areas in al-Barika reportedly kllls seven people.[24]
  • Islamist rebel forces withdraw from Diabaly, Mali, to avoid further airstrikes after days of bombing by French aircraft. French aircraft have flown 140 bombing sorties since the French intervention in Mali began.[25]
22 January
  • An American unmanned aerial vehicle attacks a ground vehicle in Yemen's Al Jawf Governorate, killing three suspected al-Qaeda members.[26]
  • The United States announces that the United States Air Force has begun airlifting French military personnel and materiel into Mali, having made five flights thus far.[27]
22–23 January (overnight)
23 January
  • An American unmanned aerial vehicle attacks a ground vehicle in Al-Masna`Ah, Yemen, killing six Islamic militants, including two senior al-Qaeda commanders.[31]
24 January
25–26 January (overnight)
  • Airborne French special forces join ground forces in capturing a key bridge and airport at Gao, Mali, from Islamist forces.[33][34]
26 January
  • The United States announces that U.S. Air Force tankers will provide aerial refueling support to French Air Force aircraft operating over Mali.[35]
28 January
  • Italy's highest criminal court rules that "ample and congruent" evidence exists to make it "abundantly" clear that a missile shot down Aerolinee Itavia Flight 870 over the Mediterranean Sea in June 1980 and orders the Government of Italy to pay damages to the families of the victims.[36][37]
  • At the request of the United States, Niger agrees to allow the basing of American unmanned aerial vehicles on its territory, allowing the United States a greater surveillance capability over northern Mali and more broadly over the Sahara Desert.[38]
29 January
30 January
  • Israeli Air Force aircraft strike a target in Syria for the first time since 2007. The United States claims that the target was a truck convoy carrying antiaircraft weapons, but the Syrian government claims it was a nearby defense research facility in Jamraya, just north of Damascus.[39][40]
31 January


1 February
2 February
2–3 February (overnight)
7 February
12 February
13 February
14 February
  • American Airlines and US Airways announce an $11,000,000,000 deal to merge, creating the world's largest airline, with 900 planes, 3,200 daily flights, and 95,000 employees. Under the deal, former US Airways management will dominate the merged airline, but the "US Airways" brand will disappear.[47]
16 February
18 February
  • After cutting a hole in a perimeter fence at Brussels Airport outside Brussels, Belgium, eight armed and masked men dressed as police officers drive in two vehicles displaying flashing blue lights onto the tarmac and confront guards loading a cargo of diamonds onto Helvetic Airways Flight LX789, a Fokker 100 passenger jet packed with passengers and preparing for departure for a flight to Zurich, Switzerland. They steal 120 small packages containing a combined $50,000,000 (£32,000,000) worth of diamonds in a three-minute robbery and escape via the same hole in the fence without firing a shot.[49][50]
20 February
22 February
26 February
  • A fire starts aboard the Ultramagic N-425 hot-air balloon SU-283 while it is attempting to land near Luxor, Egypt, carrying 19 tourists, a tour guide, and its pilot. The pilot and one tourist leap from the balloon and suffer serious injuries before the balloon, with the other 19 people still aboard, rises rapidly to an altitude of about 300 metres (980 feet), experiences an explosion heard several kilometers away, collapses, crashes to the ground, and suffers another explosion. The 19 people still aboard, seven of whom jump to their deaths to escape the fire, are killed.[53] It is the deadliest hot-air balloon accident in history, exceeding the death toll in a 1989 accident in Australia.
28 February
  • The United States Department of Defense announces that its F-35 Lightning II fleet, grounded since 22 February, will resume flying after an investigation determines that a cracked engine blade found in a U.S. Air Force F-35A was due to unique circumstances and is not a fleetwide problem.[54]


  • The United States Border Patrol launches a new program during March using MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles to take videos of remote areas along the border between the United States and Mexico to detect signs of illegal border crossings. Reapers collect video of an area, then return no more than three days later to collect new video, allowing analysts to compare the videos for signs of border crossings during the intervening period. By November 2014, the Reapers will monitor about half of the border regularly.[55]
  • The Indonesian airline Batik Air is founded during March as a full-service airline owned by Lion Air.
  • During March, Lion Air and Airbus sign the most valuable commercial order in history, a $23,800,000,000 Lion Air order for 234 Airbus A320 airliners. It exceeds the previous most valuable order, a $22,400,000,000 order by Lion Air for 230 airliners from Boeing in 2011.[56]
4 March
5 March
9 March
17 March
  • Two inmates at a prison in Saint-Jérôme, Quebec, Canada, escape by climbing a rope lowered from a helicopter. They are arrested later the same day.[64]
18 March
21 March
  • Late in the evening, two missiles fired by American unmanned aerial vehicles strike a ground vehicle moving through Data Khel in North Waziristan, Pakistan, killing all four men in the vehicle.[66]
22 March
25 March
  • Boeing makes the first of two Boeing 787 Dreamliner test flights to show that modifications to the 787's lithium-ion battery system have solved the problem of battery overheating experienced by Dreamliners earlier in the year. The aircraft, bearing the livery of LOT Polish Airlines, departs from Paine Field in Everett, Washington, flies south down the coast of Washington and halfway down the coast of Oregon, and makes a low-altitude, low-speed circle over the Strait of Juan de Fuca before returning without incident.[68]
28 March
31 March


5 April
  • Boeing makes the second of two Boeing 787 Dreamliner test flights to show that modifications to the 787's lithium-ion battery system have solved the problem of battery overheating experienced by Dreamliners earlier in the year. The aircraft, bearing the livery of LOT Polish Airlines, makes a 755-mile (1,216-kilometer) flight along the United States West Coast in just under two hours without incident. The completion of two successful test flights is a major step toward ending the worldwide grounding of 787s.[71]
6 April
7 April
  • Widespread Syrian airstrikes against rebel forces in seven cities and regions kill at least 20 people.[73]
13 April
14 April
  • The Syrian Air Force strikes the Qaboun neighborhood of Damascus, reportedly killing nine children. A Syrian jet also strikes the Kurdish village of Hadad in northeastern Syria, killing at least 16 people.[75]
25 April
27 April
  • The Boeing 787 Dreamliner makes its first passenger-carrying flight since the worldwide grounding of Dreamliners in January 2013, when a packed Ethiopian Airlines 787 flies from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to Nairobi, Kenya. Boeing vice president Randy Tinseth is among the passengers.[77]
29 April
30 April


1 May
  • A Boeing X-51A WaveRider unmanned scramjet demonstration aircraft detaches from a Boeing B-52H Stratofortress and reaches Mach 4.8 (3,200 mph or 5,100 km/h) powered by a booster rocket. It then separates cleanly from the booster, ignites its own engine, accelerates to Mach 5.1 (3,400 mph or 5,500 km/h), and flies for 240 seconds – setting the record for the longest air-breathing hypersonic flight in history – before running out of fuel and plunging into the Pacific Ocean off Point Mugu, California, after transmitting 370 seconds of telemetry. The flight – the fourth and last planned X-51A test flight and the first successful one – completes the X-51 program.[82][83][84]
3 May
4 May
5 May
  • Russian wingsuit flier Valery Rozov sets a world record for the highest wingsuit BASE jump, jumping off Mount Everest's North Col at an altitude of 7,220 meters (23,687 feet).[92]
  • Israeli aircraft strike Mount Qassioun, which overlooks Damascus, Syria, targeting surface-to-surface missiles sent from Iran to Hezbollah.[88][89] The Syrian government claims the strike targeted a scientific research facility.[87]
11 May
  • After an Israeli Air Force Heron-1 unmanned aerial vehicle flying over the Mediterranean Sea malfunctions, the Israeli Army shoots it down to prevent it from crashing in a populated area.[93] The following day Israel grounds its fleet of Heron-1 unmanned aerial vehicles.[93]
14 May
16 May
18 May
20 May
23 May
  • Solar Impulse aircraft HB-SIA completes the second and longest leg of its trip across the continental United States, arriving at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in Texas after a 957-mile (1,541-km) flight from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, Arizona, at an average speed-over-ground of 52 mph (84 km/h), reaching an altitude of 27,000 feet (8,200 meters). The flight, which takes 18 hours 21 minutes, sets a new world distance record for a solar-powered flight, exceeding the previous record, also established by HB-SIA, in a flight from Switzerland to Spain on 25 May 2012.[98][99]
24 May
27 May
29 May


4 June
  • Braving unsettled weather in the Midwestern United States, Solar Impulse aircraft HB-SIA completes the third leg of its trip across the continental United States, arriving at Lambert–St. Louis International Airport outside St. Louis, Missouri, where it is housed in an inflatable temporary hangar – the conventional hangar originally earmarked for it had been destroyed by a powerful storm on 31 May – in the first real-world test of an inflatable hangar. During the flight, the aircraft flies under cirrus clouds for the first time, and, to the surprise of its designers, its batteries continue to charge at 30 to 50 percent despite the diminished sunlight. The 1,040-km (646-mile) flight from Dallas-Fort Worth Airport in Texas, which takes 21 hours 22 minutes at an average speed of 49 km/h (30 mph) and reaches a maximum altitude of 24,000 feet (7,300 meters), is the second-longest in terms of duration ever made in a solar-powered aircraft, exceeded only a flight of over 26 hours HB-SIA itself made in July 2010.[104][105]
7 June
  • Missiles fired by an American unmanned aerial vehicle strike a house in the village of Mangroti in the Shawal area of North Waziristan in northwestern Pakistan, killing at least seven people described by officials as Islamic militants and seriously injuring four others.[106][107]
11 June
  • Air traffic controllers in France begin a strike to protest European Union plans to reorganize and privatize air traffic control over Europe.[108]
12 June
  • In response to a call for industrial action by the European Transport Workers' Federation, air traffic controllers in 11 other countries engage in lower-key industrial actions in sympathy with the French strike, although flights are not disrupted in other countries.[109]
13 June
14 June
  • Solar Impulse aircraft HB-SIA begins the fourth leg of its flight across the continental United States, flying a 678-kilometer (421-mile) segment from Lambert–St. Louis International Airport outside St. Louis, Missouri, to Cincinnati Municipal Lunken Airport in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 15 hours 14 minutes at an average speed of 44.5 km/h (27.7 mph) and reaching a maximum altitude of 3,048 metres (10,000 feet). The 11-hour stop at Cincinnati during the trip to Washington Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C., is inserted into the itinerary because of strong cross- and headwinds forecast for the flight and a legal requirement that the aircraft's pilot not exceed 24 hours continuously in the air; it also affords the Solar Impulse ground crew an opportunity to practice supporting the aircraft during stops planned on short notice.[112][113]
15 June
16 June
  • Solar Impulse aircraft HB-SIA completes the fourth leg of its flight across the continental United States, completing the fourth leg's second segment, a 702-kilometer (436-mile) trip from Cincinnati Municipal Lunken Airport in Cincinnati, Ohio – from which it had departed on 15 June after an 11-hour stopover – to Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia outside Washington, D.C. The flight takes 14 hours 4 minutes at an average speed of 50 km/h (31 mph) and reaches a maximum altitude of 3,048 metres (10,000 feet). During its stay, the aircraft is placed on temporary display at the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center adjacent to the airport.[119]
18 June
  • A tornado passes between Runways 34R and 34L at Denver International Airport in Denver, Colorado, passing 5,000 feet (1,500 meters) east of the airport's A gates, causing thousands of people to take cover in stairwells, restrooms, and other safe areas. The anemometer at the airport's weather station records a peak wind gust of 97 mph (156 km/h) before breaking. Nine flights are diverted to other airports during the 40-minute tornado warning.[120][121]
  • EVA Air joins the Star Alliance.
24 June


2 July
6 July
7 July
10 July
11 July
13 July
14 July
  • Pakistan Air Force jets bomb at least seven Islamist militant hideouts in Pakistan, killing at least 17 insurgents and injuring at least 13.[133]
28 July
  • American unmanned aerial vehicles fire two missiles at a group of men just after they cross the border from Afghanistan into Pakistan, killing at least six Islamic militants – reportedly including a senior Pakistani Taliban commander – and injuring four.[134]


6 August
13 August
14 August
24 August
26 August
31 August


4 September
  • French aviators Gérard Felzer and Pierre Chabert fly across the English Channel from Cap Gris Nez, France, to Littlestone-on-Sea, England, in 2 hours 23 minutes in the electric-powered hot-air balloon Iris Challenger II (nicknamed the "Flying Fish" by the French media). The flight is intended to demonstrate the feasibility of aviation using environmentally friendly renewable energy.[141]
5 September
10 September
12 September
16 September
18 September
22 September
29 September
30 September
  • An American unmanned aerial vehicle missile strike against a compound in the Boya area of North Waziristan, Pakistan, kills three Islamic militants.[147]


1 October
3 October
7 October
  • Japan Airlines announces that it will purchase 31 A350 airliners from Airbus for $9,500,000,000 to replace its fleet of Boeing 777s. The announcement ends Boeing's decades-long dominance of the Japanese market; before the Japan Airlines deal with Airbus, Boeing and Airbus had competed head-to-head in almost every market worldwide except for Japan.[149]
16 October
22 October
  • World View, an offshoot of the Paragon Space Development Corporation, announces plans to carry tourists into the stratosphere at an altitude of 30 kilometers (19 miles) employing 1,100,000-cubic-meter (40,000,000-cubic-foot) helium balloons. Each flight is to carry six passengers and a crew of two, requiring an ascent of between 90 minutes and two hours to peak altitude, followed by two hours at altitude and a 25-to-40-minute descent. A ticket is to cost $75,000. World View's plans call for a demonstration flight by the end of 2013 and the first operational flight by 2016.[151]
24 October
26 October
30 October
31 October


1 November
2 November
7 November
12 November
14 November
17 November
20 November
21 November
23 November
25 November
  • The Pakistan Armed Forces unveil Pakistan's first domestically produced unmanned aerial vehicles, the NESCOM Burraq and the GIDS Shahpar, which Pakistan refers to as the "Strategic Unmanned Aerial Vehicles." Pakistani military officials say that both are unarmed and that Pakistan will use them only for surveillance.[172]
26 November
  • Two unarmed Guam-based United States Air Force B-52H Stratofortress bombers operate within the newly declared Chinese air defense information zone over the East China Sea on a long-planned training flight, ignoring China's new requirement that they receive approval for the flight and demonstrating that the United States does not recognize the zone.[173]
  • All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines announce that at the request of the Japanese government they will cease filing flight plans informing China of their flights through China's new East China Sea air defense information zone.[174]
27 November
  • South Korea challenges the new Chinese air defense identification zone for the first time, flying military aircraft into the zone without notifying China.[175]
28 November
  • The Japanese government announces that its aircraft have flown into the new Chinese air defense information zone daily on routine flights without seeking approval from China since the Chinese announced the zone.[175]
  • South Korea announces that China has rejected its request that China redraw its new air defense information zone so that it does not overlap with South Korea's. South Korea adds that it will consider expanding its own zone.[175]
  • An American air-launched missile fired at an insurgent riding s bicycle in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, instead hits a house, killing a two-year-old boy. A second airstrike in the area kills an insurgent.[176]
29 November
30 November


1 December
  • Syrian government helicopters bombing a rebel compound at al-Bab kill 24 people.[181]
  • On CBS television's 60 Minutes, Amazon.com chairman, president, and chief executive officer Jeff Bezos unveils a plan to use unmanned eight-rotor drone helicopters ("octocopters") to deliver packages to the homes of customers in as little as 30 minutes. He displays a working model of such an octocopter, and says that he hopes to put the octocopters into practical use by 2018.[182]
2 December
4 December
8 December
  • South Korea announces that it will expand its air defense information zone (ADIZ) for the first time in 62 years, extending it 300 kilometers (186 statute miles; 162 nautical miles) to the south, overlapping with Japan's ADIZ and with the expanded ADIZ the People's Republic of China declared over the East China Sea on 23 November. The expanded South Korean ADIZ is scheduled to go into effect on 15 December.[185][186]
12 December
  • A missile strike by an American unmanned aerial vehicle on a convoy of ground vehicles in Radda, Yemen kills at least 13 people. The vehicles had been bound for a wedding party. Conflicting reports state that the UAV struck the convoy by mistake and that the UAV targeted the convoy to kill Islamic militants riding in it, although reports also disagree as to whether any militants were present.[187]
13 December
15 December
16 December
  • Syrian helicopters continue to pound Aleppo in northern Syria, where the death toll exceeds 100 during the two days of barrel-bomb attacks on densely crowded neighborhoods. Syrian aircraft also strike the villages of Inkhil and Jassem in southern Syria, killing two women and two children.[189][190]
17 December
20 December
  • Vanilla Air begins flight operations, flying from Tokyo's Narita International Airport to Okinawa and Taipei.
  • Hours after the French wine entrepreneur James Gregoire sells his luxury Bordeaux chateau, Chateau de La Riviere, to billionaire Chinese hotel magnate Lam Kok, owner of the Brilliant hotel chain, the two men and Kok's 12-year-old son and an interpreter die when the helicopter Gregoire is piloting on an aerial tour of the property crashes into the river Dordogne near Lugon-et-l'Île-du-Carnay, France. Eyewitnesses report two people struggling in the water after the crash, but they apparently drown in the rushing water. A previous owner of the property had died in a 2002 aircraft crash.[192]
21 December
  • Syrian helicopters drop barrel bombs on opposition-held portions of Aleppo, killing at least six people.[193]
  • Rebel ground fire damages three United States Air Force CV-22 Osprey aircraft as they approach Bor, South Sudan, to evacuate American citizens threatened by combat between rebel and government forces, wounding four American military personnel. The Ospreys abort their mission and fly the wounded to Entebbe, Uganda, from which a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III transports the injured personnel to Nairobi, Kenya, for hospitalization.[194]
22 December
  • For an eighth straight day, Syrian helicopters attack rebel-held areas in and near Aleppo with barrel bombs, killing at least 32 people. Syrian aircraft also strike the Bab al-Hawa Border Crossing on the northern border with Turkey, killing or wounding several people.[195] Estimates of the combined death toll in the day's attacks on Aleppo and the border crossing later rise to at least 45.[196]
23 December
  • In a ninth day of barrel-bomb attacks on Aleppo and its suburbs, and in strikes on three other towns in the Aleppo Governorate including Azaz on the Turkish border, Syrian helicopters kill at least 45 more people. Since beginning on 15 December, the daily airstrikes have killed an estimated 364 people.[196]
24 December
  • Syrian helicopters attack rebel-controlled portions of Aleppo for the tenth straight day, killing at least 15 people. One estimate places the death toll at at least 33, with another 150 injured.[197]
  • After sniper fire from the Gaza Strip mortally wounds an Israeli civilian maintenance worker as he performs repairs on the Israeli side of the border fence, Israeli Air Force aircraft join Israeli tanks and infantry in a retaliatory cross-border attack, killing two Palestinians.[198]
25 December
  • Activists place the number of people killed by Syrian helicopters dropping barrel bombs on rebel-held areas of Aleppo at 401 over the eleven days of attacks which began on 15 December.[199]
26 December
28 December
  • A Syrian airstrike on a vegetable market in the Tariq al-Bab neighborhood of Aleppo kills at least 21, and perhaps as many as 25, people.[202]
30 December
  • Lebanese antiaircraft guns fire at Syrian Air Force helicopters which the gunners claim have violated Lebanese airspace. It is the first time that the Lebanese armed forces have fired at Syrian forces since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War in March 2011.[203]
  • Followers of evangelical preacher Joseph Mukungubila, known as "The Prophet," attack N'djili Airport and other targets in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Sixteen people who die in an exchange of gunfire at the airport are among 40 people killed in the attacks. Flights approaching the airport for a landing are forced to divert elsewhere.[204]
  • The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration announces that after considering proposals from 25 teams in 24 states, it has selected six teams to test various aspects of the integration of unmanned aerial vehicles into the airspace of the United States: the University of Alaska in Alaska, which will examine standards for unmanned aircraft categories, state monitoring, and navigation, including testing in Hawaii and Oregon; the State of Nevada, which will study UAV standards and operations, UAV operator standards and certification requirements, and air traffic control procedures; Griffiss International Airport in Rome, New York, which will develop test, evaluation, verification, and validation processes and study UAV sense-and-avoid technologies; the Commerce Department of the State of North Dakota, which will develop UAV airworthiness essential data, validate high reliability link technology, and research human factors; Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi in Corpus Christi, Texas, which will develop safety requirements for UAVs and UAV operations; and Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, which will examine UAV failures and their associated technical and operational risks and consequences, using test ranges in Virginia and New Jersey. Test sites are to remain active through at least 13 February 2017.[205][206]
  • For the first time in more than 50 years, a commercial flight takes place between Key West, Florida, and Cuba, when a Cessna 441 Conquest II with nine paying passengers aboard flies from Key West International Airport to Havana. Key West had received approval to conduct flights to and from Cuba in October 2011, but it had taken over two years for charter airline operators to receive all the necessary permissions to make the first flight. Key West International Airport director Peter Horton describes the flight as "test run," and regular Key West-Cuba commercial air service remains a distant prospect.[207]
31 December

First flights






Entered service




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  2. Associated Press, "Burma Military Admits Airstrikes Against Kachin," 2 January 2013.
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