Worldwide fuelling infrastructure in place on 20th anniversary of civil aviation

By 1939, demand for air travel had become global, just two decades on from the first commercial flights and a mere 30 years since Louis Blériot’s historic channel crossing.

Aside from the technical challenges of flight, one of the main tests facing aviation in these intervening years had been the need to develop a global infrastructure to support the growing industry.

Shell Aviation played a significant role in helping solve this problem; starting with the provision of fuel for the earliest pioneers, through airfield and route development to the creation of safe, more efficient and faster fuel delivery systems.

Working closely with airlines, as well as engine and aircraft manufacturers, Shell Aviation developed and tested a range of fuels, lubricants, greases, and liquids, which became approved for use in a wide range of aircraft. By the end of the 1930s, it had completed a worldwide refuelling network, ensuring that this range of products, along with essential information and support was available right around the globe, from modern airports to the most remote and primitive airfields.

On its 20th anniversary, commercial aviation could truly claim to be a worldwide enterprise. The achievements of the early pioneers of aviation meant that flight now connected communities and supported economic progress, backed by an ecosystem developed by Shell.

Shell’s commitment to supporting aviation continues over 80 years later, drawing on the spirit of collaboration and innovation of the early pioneers that helped create the sector’s global footprint. Today it is focused on helping aviation meet perhaps its greatest challenge yet, how to fly more sustainably. By coming together to accelerate towards net-zero emissions, the aviation sector can continue to power progress, supporting the global community as it works to meet the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement.


Shell Aviation News, 1939.
Shell historical archives.

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