A review of commercial airline evolution from the 1945 period through contemporary practices is made, followed by consideration of future possibilities to the year 2000. In this metamorphic stage the early introduction of turboprop and jet transports is discussed, including some anecdotal reminiscences. The viewpoint is that of an engineering and maintenance specialist and it encompasses developments on both sides of the Atlantic. The abortive U.S. SST program is discussed from one manufacturer's viewpoint followed by some comments on the early design of a big tri-jet. All-cargo airline evolutionary history is reviewed followed by discussion of some current problems such as structural ageing of aircraft, influences of deregulation and history of maintenance and overhaul techniques. Safety issues are briefly mentioned followed by considerations of today's and tomorrow's advanced turbofan and turboprop powerplants and aircraft. Mention of future SST's and trans-atmospheric vehicles completes the narrative. Concluding discussion with a summary of the principal points is provided.