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Who Built Concorde ?

“It seemed as if the aeroplane had been built simply to delight me.”

Brian Calvert, former Concorde Pilot and Flight Manager (Technical), British Airways Concorde fleet

In the late 1950s, the United Kingdom and France were considering developing a supersonic transport. The British Bristol Aeroplane Company and the French Sud Aviation were both working on designs; the British one was called the Type 223, and the French one the Super-Caravelle. Both were largely funded by their respective governments The British design was for a thin-winged delta shape transatlantic-ranged aircraft for about 100 people which owed much to the work of Dietrich Kuchemann. While the French were intending to build a medium-range aircraft

The designs were both ready to start prototype construction in the early 1960s, but the cost was so great that the British government made it a requirement that BAC look for international co-operation. Approaches were made to a number of countries, but only France showed real interest, mainly because the British were the only nation that had the possible engine, the Olympus 593. It would of taken the French years and cost millions to to develop a engine of their own. The development project was negotiated as an international treaty between the two countries rather than a commercial agreement between companies and included a clause, originally asked for by the UK, imposing heavy penalties for cancellation. A draft treaty was signed on 28 November 1962. By this time, both companies had been merged into new ones; thus, the Concorde project was between the British Aircraft Corporation and Aerospatiale.


General shot of the manufacture process

Section 14 of the first production Concorde 1 leaves the Aerospatiale works at Marignane recently. 16TH April 1970

Who designed and built what parts for Concorde?

Franco/British agreement

Article 1 (1) 29th November 1962

‘ The principle of this agreement of this collaboration shall be the equal sharing between the two countries, on the basis of equal responsibility for the project as a whole, of the work, of the expenditure incurred by the two governments, and the proceeds of sale.’


By this time the two engine companies Bristol Siddeley Engines and SNECMA had already signed a memorandum of understanding during November 1961. In 1966 Bristol Siddeley Engines became part of Rolls-Royce

The engine companies had a much easier accord. It was generally acknowledged that the Olympus engine, developed by the former Bristol Siddeley Engines Company, now owned by Rolls-Royce, was an engine with great potential and the only engine in the world capable of doing the job. Thus in the event of an SST decision, Bristol would produce the flange-to-flange engine and SNECMA the bit behind – jet pipe, reheat, primary and secondary nozzles and some form of thrust reverser. It was estimated that the now Roll-Royce would have a 60% share of the engine work, and SNECMA 40%.

Carving up the aircraft was a much more complex mater. Concorde was not a 204ft long tube with a wing attached on either side, but a series of five transverse slices each comprising a piece of – left wing, fuselage and right wing. So France designed and built the wing, taking on the major task of creating and aerodynamic bridge from Mach 0.85 to Mach 2+.

Having the wing, it was entirely practical to take the flight controls, then their power Control units ( Power Steering) and Hydraulic supplies, the control mediums from the flight deck to PCU’s and electronics in between, viz. autopilot, stability enhancement system (autostabs) and artificial feel; and so it was.


As the UK was awarded the engines, it was then a sound decision to add intakes and control systems, on two accounts – their interdependency and the fact that it was the other major fundamental.


With the two big areas allocated, it was just a matter of practical division to accommodate a 60/40 spilt between France/UK. Fuselage, from nose gear forward including nose and visor, and from wing trailing-edge aft including fin and rudder went to the UK. France took the landing gear, however, since the UK company Dunlop had become a worldwide industry leader in carbon fibre production they picked-up the brakes therefore the wheels as well.


Of the remaining systems, engine fire warning and protection, fuel, electrics and oxygen became British, while navigation systems, air data systems, pressurisation, air conditioning and radio were French, aircon distribution were British.

Under the terms of the Treaty both sides were to be given an equal share of the work. In order to ensure a fair division, contracts were apportioned by a joint Concorde Directing Committee. The main contractors, BAC and Sud, had therefore to accept the tenders from a list of pre-selected sub-contractors, placing them in order of preference and finally submitting three to the joint Technical Committee. This committee of civil servants then evaluated the tenders and recommended a supplier. It was only natural that the need to divide the workload and use a particular aircraft factory for political reasons meant that the final choice of supplier did not always correspond with the wishes of the design team. This was exactly the situation in the case of the special glass for the aircrafts windows. Originally British Pilkington purchased the rights to a new formula for toughened glass made by Corning Glass Corporation of America. Because of French insistence on equal division of work, the Concorde Directing Committee allocated the windows to France. The French Pilkington Company had to make a fresh purchase of the patent rights and start from scratch.

G-BSST at Filton, UK.

The power supply-control systems became the prime example of the inefficiencies of building a political aeroplane. When the tenders had been invited for the controls, Boulton Paul, an old established British firm, produced a tener which vastly undercut the French offer of Dassault. When the list went for evaluation, Boulton Paul found itself the preferred choice of the British, but not the French. There were strong rumours at the time that the French were sticking out for the more expensive Dassault estimate because no less a person than the General himself had promised the contrct to Marcel Dassault, the head of the company. Before they finally capitulated, after more than a year of argument, the French argued with some justification that Dassault had more experience with the controls a supersonic plane demanded. The mechanisms that have to operate the moving surfaces at supersonic speeds, are located in the hottest spots and hydraulic oils and rubber seals have to withstand a constantly high temperature without failure.

The experience of the British system has since lent weight to the French case, although it must be realised that Boulton Paul got the contract one year late and had to cram three years development work into a far shorter time the schedule was not improved by Sud-Aviation’s attitude when the power controls finally arrived at Toulouse; they insisted on stripping them down, but found this a good deal simpler than re-assembly. The whole consignment had to be sent back to England, whilst 001 the French Prototype waited on the ground at Toulouse without its essential equipment.

British Aircraft Corporation (BAC)/ Aerospatiale – Concorde







The British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) was a British aircraft manufacturer formed from the government-pressured merger of English Electric Aviation Ltd., Vickers-Armstrongs (Aircraft), the Bristol Aeroplane Company and Hunting Aircraft in 1960. Bristol, English Electric and Vickers became “parents” of BAC with shareholdings of 40%, 40% and 20% respectively. BAC in turn acquired the share capital of their aviation interests and 70% of Hunting several months later. Its head office was on the top floors of the 100 Pall Mall building in the City of Westminster, London.


The company was formed in the United Kingdom as a statutory corporation on 29 April 1977 as a result of the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Act. This called for the nationalisation and merger of the British Aircraft Corporation, Hawker Siddeley Aviation, Hawker Siddeley Dynamics and Scottish Aviation. In 1979 BAe officially joined Airbus, the UK having previously withdrawn support for the consortium in April 1969.


British Aerospace plc (BAe) had its head office at Warwick House in the Farnborough Aerospace Centre in Farnborough, Hampshire. In 1999 it purchased Marconi Electronic Systems, the defence electronics and naval shipbuilding subsidiary of the General Electric Company plc, to form BAE Systems.


BAE Systems inherited British Aerospace’s share of Airbus Industrie, which consisted of two factories at Broughton and Filton. These facilities manufactured wings for the Airbus family of aircraft. In 2001 Airbus was incorporated as Airbus SAS, a joint stock company. In return for a 20% share in the new company BAE Systems transferred ownership of its Airbus plants (known as Airbus UK) to the new company.


BAE Systems sold its share in Airbus to EADS which saw the end of UK owned involvement in civil airliner production. Airbus Operations Ltd (the former Airbus UK) continues to be the Airbus “Centre of Excellence” for wing production, employing over 9,500, but is entirely owned by EADS

The BAC factory at Weybridge






Aerospatiale was a French state-owned aerospace manufacturer that built both civilian and military aircraft, rockets and satellites. It was originally known as Société nationale industrielle aérospatiale (SNIAS). Its head office was in the 16th arrondissement of Paris. The former assets of Aerospatiale are now part of EADS, The company (as SNIAS) was created in 1970 by the merger of the state-owned companies Sud Aviation, Nord Aviation and Société d’études et de réalisation d’engins balistiques (SÉREB).


Sud Aviation was a French state-owned aircraft manufacturer, originating from the merger of Sud-Est (SNCASE, or Société nationale des constructions aéronautiques du sud-est) and Sud-Ouest (SNCASO or Société nationale des constructions aéronautiques du sud-ouest) on March 1, 1957. Both companies had themselves been formed from smaller privately owned corporations that had been nationalized into six regional design and manufacturing pools just prior to World War II.


Sud Aviation started work on the design of a supersonic transport version of the Caravelle, known as the Super-Caravelle. However, the projected cost of the project was so high that Sud Aviation, at the direction of the French and British governments, formed a consortium with BAC in November 1962 to merge their design and production efforts to create the Concorde.


Sud Aviation merged with Nord Aviation in 1970 to form the Aérospatiale company. Aérospatiale formed several large-scale international consortia, for example with British Aerospace and Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm to form Airbus, and ultimately merged into European aerospace company EADS in 2000.


The Concorde Powerplant

Bristol Siddeley Engines/ Later Rolls-Royce – Engines


The Olympus engines were built at the Rolls-Royce factory – Patchway, Bristol


Bristol Siddeley Engines Limited was formed by a merger, effective from the 1 April 1959, of the Bristol Aero-Engines and Armstrong Siddeley Motors. These were the aero engine manufacturing companies of the Bristol Aeroplane Company and the Hawker Siddeley Group. The share capital of Bristol Siddeley was held in equal proportions by these two parent organisations. At around the same time Bristol’s aircraft manufacturing was being subsumed into the British Aircraft Corporation along with those of English Electric and Vickers-Armstrong. Bristol Siddeley was purchased by Rolls-Royce Limited in 1968.


Rolls-Royce Holdings plc is a United Kingdom-based multinational public holding company that through its subsidiaries, designs, manufactures and distributes power systems. Rolls-Royce Holdings is headquartered in City of Westminster, London. It is the world’s third-largest maker of aircraft engines



Jet pipe, reheat, primary and secondary nozzles and thrust reverser

Nozzle – Snecma, Melun Villaroche

Snecma used to be an acronym for Société nationale d’études et de construction de moteurs d’aviation (in English, “National Company for the Design and Construction of Aviation Engines”) until 27 Aprilth 2004.


In 1961, Snecma and Bristol Siddeley agreed to a joint venture to produce the power plant for the Concorde, which would become the Rolls-Royce/Snecma Olympus 593. the main body of the engine came from the Bristol Olympus with the refinements being the addition of the variable intakes necessary for supersonic flight.


Today Snecma S.A. is a French multinational aircraft and rocket engine manufacturer headquartered in Courcouronnes, France. Alone or in partnership, Snecma designs, develops, produces and markets engines for civil and military aircraft, launch vehicles and satellites. The company also offers a complete range of engine support services to airlines, armed forces and other operators. Snecma is a subsidiary of Safran.

Concorde Airframe and Systems


British Aircraft Corporation/ later British Aerospace and then BAe Systems PLC


Nose and visor – Marshalls, Cambridge


Fuselage nose – BAC, Weybridge


Forward fuselage – BAC, Weybridge


Rear fuselage – BAC, Weybridge


Air intake – BAC, Preston


Engine bay – BAC, Filton


Paint – PPG Aerospace


Fin – BAC, Weybridge


Rudder – BAC, Filton


Brakes and wheels – Dunlop


Electronic work was carried out by Elliott and Smiths Industries


Final assembly of British built Concordes – BAC, Filton, Bristol









Fuel engine instruments


Engine controls




Air-conditioning distribution





Avica - Piping and ducting systems and components.


Boulton Paul – Flight servo controls; amplifiers.


Dowty Electrics – Micro-contacts for electro-hydraulic circuits


Dowty-Rotol – Electro-hydraulic selector for the landing gear; hydraulic accumulator


Elliott – Fuel-flow meters


English Electric – Constant speed drive; electrical load control; ‘Spraymat’ de-icer; plastic visor; panel lighting


Flight Refuelling – Refuelling equipment


Graviner – Fire extinguishers; detection system


Hawker Siddeley – Air-conditioning


Hymatic Engineering – Pressurisation of fuel tanks


Integral – Hydraulic pumps


Normalair – Cabin pressure regulator


Page – Electrical instruments – fire alarm system


Palmer – Fuel filters


Plessey – Fuel electro pumps – electric actuators; gas turbine starters


Rotax – Contactors, de-icing electronic timer, etc


Saunders – Fuel electro valves


Smiths – Icing detection, navigation and engine instruments


Walter Kidde – Oxygen equipment



Decca – Omnitrac equipment


EKCO – Weather radar


Elliott – Autopilot, flight and take-off director computers, landing display


Ferranti – Inertial navigation system; automatic chart display


Kollsmann – Flight instruments


Marconi – Doppler, DME, Selcal


Smiths – Icing detection, navigation and engine instruments


White & Nunn – VOR/DME/ATC remote control

Sud Aviation/ later became Aerospatiale and then EADS which now owns AIRBUS SAS

Intermediate fuselage – Aerospatiale, Marignane


Forward wing – Aerospatiale, Bouguenais


Centre-wing/fuselage :

Frames 41-46 – Aerospatiale, Marignane

Frames 46-54 – Aerospatiale, Bouguenais

Frames 54-60 – Aerospatiale, Toulouse

Frames 60-66 – Aerospatiale, Toulouse

Frames 66-72 – Aerospatiale, St. Nazaire


Outer wings – Dassault, Boulogne/Seine

Elevons – Aerospatiale Suresnes, Bouguenais


Landing gear (main) – Hispano-Suiza, Bois Colombes


Landing gear (nose) – Messier, Montrouge


Final assembly of French built Concordes – Aerospatiale Toulouse



Flying Controls






Air-conditioning supply


Air Equipment/DBA – Servo control automatic selectors; artificial fuel system; HP fuel pumps; control surface position indicators


Auxilec – Alternators; transformers rectifiers


Bronzavia – Air-conditioning; HP fuel pumps; water separator; humidifier


CEM – High temperature micro-contacts


ECE – Control boxes, breakers, relays, control panels


EROS – Pilot’s individual oxygen equipment (Prototype trials)


Intertechnique – Fuel gauging and transfer systems


Jaeger – Engine monitoring system; miscellaneous instruments


SAFT – Accumulator battery


SECAN – Hydraulic oil/fuel heat exchangers


SEMCA – Air starter, pressure reducer, thermostatic valve, non-return valves, cut-off valves, drains, high temp couplings


Sofrance – Hydraulic filters


Teleflex-Syneravia – Landing lamps


Zenith – Refuelling collector


Crouzet – Air data computer


CSF – VOR/ILS receiver


ECE – Control boxes and panels


Sadelec-Wilcox (France/USA) – ATC transponder, VHF communications


Sagem – Inertial navigation system, navigation computer


SFENA – Flight director gyro horizon, VOR-NAV indicator


SFIM – Attitude indicator; oxygen regulator


Staec – Antennae (ATC-DME – MARKER)


TEAM – Public address system


TRT – Auto-landing radio altimeter


Bendix – ADF marker receiver, vertical speed indicator, auto-flight elements


Collins – HF transceiver

USA Made Parts

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