Concorde

Concorde in flight Concorde on the tarmac Concorde crash
Designers British and French Governments - British Airways and Air France
Dates 2 March 1969 - 24 October 2003

Description

Concorde measured 204ft in lenghth, had a wingspan of 83ft 8ins and was 37ft and 1ins in height. Her four engines gave more than 38,000lbs of thrust, which produced the extra power required for take-off and the transition to supersonic flight. Concorde took off at 220 knots (250mph) compared to 165 knots for most subsonic aircraft, cruised at 1350mph - which was twice the speed of sound (Mach 2) - and at an altitude of up to 60,000ft - over 11 miles high. A typical fight from London to New York took a mere three and a half hours. A subsonic flight takes eight. As Concorde needed to be streamlined for supersonic flight, she had a very pointed nose which reduced drag and improved aerodynamic efficiency. During taxiing, take-off and landing, the nose was lowered in order for the pilots to see the runway.

The development costs for Concorde were around 1.134 billion, which was funded by the UK and French Govenments. The cost of the 16 production Concordes was 654 million. British Airways and Air France were the only two airlines to purchase Concordes at a cost of 23 million pounds each. BA initially brought 5, Air France, 4. This would equate to 200 million at todays prices.

A Personal View

I used to live opposite St Anne's church in Wandsworth and around 5.30 every evening I would look out of the window and see Concorde approaching in the distance. Forget about how much she cost, she was a classy lady, full of elegance and grace. No plane before or since glides through the air like she did or commands the same reverence that she did. Will ever be what she was.To me she was a thing of beauty in the air.

Times have changed and air travel is becoming a nasty phrase. Concorde would never have withstood the arguements about global warming even if the airlines could have withstood the cost, yet everytime I see a plane in the air I think of Concorde and wish I could change that plane for her.

Context

The research of supersonic flight in Europe began in 1956. The British and French Governments joined together in the design, development and manufacture of Concorde six years later.There were 20 Concordes built in total between 1966 and 1979 the first two of which were prototypes. The first prototype, Concorde 001, flight was from Tolouse in March 1967. Concorde 002 flew from Filton, Bristol, a month later.The first supersonic flight took place seven months later.

While it was famous for its appearance in the 1978-9 film "Airport '79:The Concorde, on 25th July 2000, the French Concorde 203 crashed on take-off outside Charles De Gaulle airport, Paris after suffering a tyre blowout that caused a fuel tank to rupture and 2 engines to fail, killing all 109 passengers and 9 crew. Following an investigation, on 16th August 2000 the Civil Aviation Authority suspended Concordes certificate of airworthiness. Thirteen months later Concorde was allowed to fly again, but its death knell had already been sounded.

Concorde was retired in 2003 because of the cost to run her. Both BA and Air France were not making back the money spent on safety modifications increased as a result of the crash in 2000 and other upgrades required on her. As she had almost reached the end of her technical lifespan the cost of continuing to keep her airborn was outweighed by the increasing cost that both BA and Air France would have had to incur.

Although the building of Concorde was an expensive venture, it formed the foundation of the European aviation industry that we have today. This is due to the skills and knowledge gained by the development of Concorde.

Links

www.britishairways.com - British Airways

www.concordesst.com - Concorde website

Author: Karen Campbell Date: March 2007