There’s this SR-71 Blackbird stooging around Cuba on a top-secret mission, at FL500+ and Mach 2+…. when they get a call requesting them to change heading “because of traffic at your altitude”.
Traffic at THEIR altitude??
Anyway, they comply, and shortly, yes, there’s an Air France Concorde out of Caracas (Air France flew there in the early days) slowly sailing across their flight path.
Just imagine… two guys in bonedomes and full pressure suits, in a cramped cockpit, watching something like a hundred people in shirt sleeves or summer dresses, sipping their champagne and maybe just starting on their smoked salmon hors d’oeuvres, flying at their altitude and nearly their speed….”
Story by former Concorde engineer Christian Julius
A French Concorde was once used to fly a rare snake bite serum to Africa for emergency treatment as the poor victim only had a couple of hours or so left to live, amazingly he lived due to the time saved by Concorde.
BA Concordes were used to carried diamond shipments to the USA
BA Concordes were also used to fly live human organs for transplant requirements/purposes
There have been more US astronauts than BA Concorde pilots.
One BA engineer is said to have hid in the toilet during take-off from JFK to get a free flight back to Heathrow
BA Concordes were used to carry major currency between the USA and the UK, there was a safe fitted in the rear baggage hold for this purpose
Fred Finn was on the first and last Concorde flight and holds the Guinness World Record for the most Concorde flights as a passenger.In total, he flew 718 times on the Queen of the Skies between 1976 and 2003 – all of them in the same seat, 9A.
Each flight consisted of the pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer and six cabin crew.
In 1993, Barbara Harmer, a former hairdresser from Bognor Regis, became Concorde’s first female pilot.
British Airways limited their cabin crew to a maximum of three years’ service to allow as many people as possible the chance to work on Concorde.
Pilots wanting to fly Concorde had to complete an intensive six month conversion programme consisting of a six week technical course, nineteen weeks on the simulator, route briefing and route flying training.
More than 2.5 million passengers flew supersonically on British Airways’ Concorde since she entered commercial service in 1976.
The standard return fare from London to New York was £6,636.
In 1993 pop star Suggs from the group Madness hit the world’s longest putt down the aisle of Concorde’s cabin to raise money for charity. Five miles in two seconds!
Victoria Beckham flew Concorde for three wedding dress fittings in New York in 1999.
Over one million bottles of champagne have been consumed on Concorde passenger flights.
Supersonic celebrities have included: Sir Sean Connery, Joan Collins, Elizabeth Taylor, Sir Elton John, Kate Moss, Rod Stewart, Robbie Williams, Mike Tyson and members of the Royal family
The Ryder Cup was brought back to Europe by Concorde in 1995.
Concorde recorded its fastest journey from New York to London on January 1st 1983, taking 2 hours 56 minutes.
There was no in flight entertainment on Concorde flights, but you got free champagne and posh food on Wedgwood crockery.
On 24th December 1985 four Concorde’s were flown together for a unique event. To celebrate 10 years of Concorde passenger services, British Airways organised a special formation flight. Taking off from Heathrow in turn, the four Concorde’s proceeded to assemble in a number of different formations whilst doing a circuit around the south coast of England.The flight leader was Captain Brian Walpole piloting G-BOAA. The other aircraft were piloted by Captain John Eames (G-BOAC), Captain John Cook (G-BOAF) andCaptain David Leney (G-BOAG).
For its first few years, Concorde operated at a loss. The British Government, which financed the British side of the Concorde project, took 80% of Concorde’s revenue.
It was discovered in the early eighties that public perception of Concorde was that it cost more to fly on it than it actually did. So the prices were put up to what people thought they were, and with oil prices reducing, Concorde began making money.
In 1984, financial ownership of the crafts was passed over for the government to British Airways who operated the crafts at a profit.
It is believed that part of the reason for the crafts being retired in 2003 was that, while they were grounded, British Airways and Air France realised that they made more profit out of the passengers who would have flown on Concorde by them flying First Class on their standard aircrafts.
Concorde does a barrel roll
Concorde was an ogival delta-winged (“OG delta wing”) aircraft with four Olympus engines based on those originally developed for the Avro Vulcan strategic bomber. The engines were jointly built by Rolls-Royce and SNECMA. Concorde was the first civil airliner to have an analogue fly-by-wire flight control system. It also employed a trademark droop snoot lowering nose section for visibility on approach.
These and other features permitted Concorde to have an average cruise speed of Mach 2.02 (about 2,140 km/h or 1,330 mph) with a maximum cruise altitude of 18,300 metres (60,000 feet), more than twice the speed of conventional aircraft. The average landing speed was a relatively high 298 km/h (185 mph, 160 knots).
Concorde pioneered a number of technologies:
For high speed and optimisation of flight:
Double-delta (ogee/ogival) shaped wingsVariable inlet rampsSuper cruise capabilityThrust-by-wire engines, predecessor of today’s FADEC-controlled enginesDroop-nose section for improved visibility in landing
For weight-saving and enhanced performance:
Mach 2.04 (~2,200 km/h – 1350 mph) cruising speed for optimum fuel consumption (supersonic drag minimum, although turbojet engines are more efficient at high speed)Mainly aluminium construction for low weight and relatively conventional manufacture (higher speeds would have ruled out aluminium)Full-regime autopilot and autothrottle allowing “hands off” control of the aircraft from climb out to landingFully electrically controlled analogue fly-by-wire flight controls systemsMultifunction flight control surfacesHigh-pressure hydraulic system of 28 MPa (4,000 lbf) for lighter hydraulic systems componentsFully electrically controlled analogue brake-by-wire systemPitch trim by shifting fuel around the fuselage for centre-of-gravity controlParts made using ’sculpture milling’ from single alloy billet reducing the part-number count, while saving weight and adding strengthLack of Auxiliary power unit (Relying on the fact that Concorde will be used for premium services to big airports, where a ground air start cart would be readily available)Flush fitting lights
The Concorde programme’s primary legacy is in the experience gained in design and manufacture which later became the basis of the Airbus consortium. Snecma Moteurs’ involvement with the Concorde programme prepared the company’s entrance into civil engine design and manufacturing, opening the way for Snecma to establish CFM International with General Electric and produce the successful CFM International CFM56 series engines.
Although Concorde was a technological marvel when introduced into service in the 1970s, 30 years later its cockpit, cluttered with analogue dials and switches, looked dated. With no competition, there was no commercial pressure to upgrade Concorde with enhanced avionics or passenger comfort, as occurred in other airliners of the same vintage, for example the Boeing 747.
The key partners, BAC (later to become BAE Systems) and Aerospatiale (later to become EADS), were the joint owners of Concorde’s type certificate. Responsibility for the Type Certificate transferred to Airbus with formation of Airbus SAS.
Scheduled flights began on 21 January 1976 on the London-Bahrain and Paris-Rio (via Dakar) routes. The U.S. Congress had just banned Concorde landings in the US, mainly due to citizen protest over sonic booms, preventing launch on the coveted transatlantic routes. However, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, William Coleman, gave special permission for Concorde service to Washington Dulles International Airport, and Air France and British Airways simultaneously began service to Dulles on 24 May 1976.
When the U.S. ban on JFK Concorde operations was lifted in February 1977, New York banned Concorde locally. The ban came to an end on 17 October 1977 when the Supreme Court of the United States declined to overturn a lower court’s ruling rejecting the Port Authority’s efforts to continue the ban (The noise report noted that Air Force One, at the time a Boeing VC-137, was louder than Concorde at subsonic speeds and during takeoff and landing.). Scheduled service from Paris and London to New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport began on 22 November 1977. Flights operated by BA were generally numbered “BA001″ (London to New York), “BA002″ (New York to London), “BA003″ (London to New York) and “BA004″ (New York to London). Air France flight numbers were generally “AF001″ (New York to Paris) and “AF002″ (Paris to New York).
By around 1981 in the UK, the future for Concorde looked bleak. The government had lost money operating Concorde every year, and moves were afoot to cancel the service entirely. A cost projection came back with greatly reduced metallurgical testing costs, but still, having lost money for so many years, the government was not keen to continue. In late 1983, the managing director of BA, Sir John King, managed to get the government to sell the aircraft outright to (the then state owned, later privatised) BA for 16.5 million plus the first year’s profits.
After doing a market survey and discovering that their target customers thought that Concorde was more expensive than it actually was, BA progressively raised prices to match these perceptions. It is reported that BA then ran Concorde at a profit, unlike their French counterparts. The plane was reckoned to make an operating profit for British Airways after the British and French governments agreed to write off the development costs of the plane. BA’s profits have been reported to be up to 50 million in the most profitable year, with total revenue of 1.75 billion, before costs of 1 billion.
While commercial jets take seven hours to fly from New York to Paris, the average supersonic flight time on the transatlantic routes was just under 3.5 hours. In transatlantic flight, Concorde travelled more than twice as fast as other aircraft – other aircraft frequently appeared to be flying backwards. Up to 2003, Air France and British Airways continued to operate the New York services daily. Concorde also flew to Barbados’s Grantley Adams International Airport during the winter holiday season. Until the AF Paris crash ended virtually all charter services by both AF and BA, several UK and French tour operators operated numerous charter flights to various European destinations on a regular basis.