Concorde Aero Collection
The aircraft was initially referred to in Britain as "Concorde," with the French
spelling, but was officially changed to "Concord" by Harold Macmillan in response
to a perceived slight by Charles de Gaulle. In 1967, at the French roll-
Construction of two prototypes began in February 1965: 001, built by Aerospatiale at Toulouse, and 002, by BAC at Filton, Bristol. Concorde 001 made its first test flight from Toulouse on 2 March 1969 and first went supersonic on 1 October. As the flight programme progressed, it embarked on a sales and demonstration tour on 4 September 1971. Concorde 002 followed suit on 2 June 1972 with a tour of the Middle and Far East. Concorde 002 made the first visit to the United States in 1973, landing at the new Dallas/Fort Worth Regional Airport to mark that airport's opening.
These trips led to orders for over 70 aircraft, but a combination of factors led to a sudden number of order cancellations; the 1973 oil crisis, acute financial difficulties of many airlines, a spectacular Paris Le Bourget air show crash of the competing Soviet Tupolev Tu-
The United States had cancelled its supersonic transport (SST) programme in 1971. Two designs had been submitted; the Lockheed L-
Both European airlines flew demonstration and test flights from 1974 onwards. The testing of Concorde set records that have not been surpassed; the prototype, pre-
Concorde was an ogival delta-
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:
Variable inlet ramps
Mach 2.04 (~2,200 km/h -
Mainly aluminium construction for low weight and relatively conventional manufacture (higher speeds would have ruled out aluminium)
Fully electrically controlled analogue fly-
Multifunction flight control surfaces
Fully electrically controlled analogue brake-
Pitch trim by shifting fuel around the fuselage for centre-
Parts milled from single alloy billet reducing the part-
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.
Many issues were overcome whilst researching and developing Concorde.
Movement of centre of pressure
When any aircraft passes the critical mach of that particular airframe, the centre of pressure shifts rearwards. This causes a pitch down force on the aircraft, as the centre of gravity remains where it was. The engineers designed the wings in a specific manner to reduce this shift. However, there was still a shift of about 2 metres. This could have been countered by the use of trim controls, but at such high speeds this would have caused a dramatic increase in the drag on the aircraft. Instead, the distribution of fuel along the aircraft was shifted during acceleration and deceleration to move the centre of gravity, effectively acting as an auxiliary trim control.
To be economically viable, Concorde needed to be able to fly reasonably long distances, and this required high efficiency. For optimum supersonic flight, the engines needed to have a small frontal cross-
The inlet design for Concorde's engines was critical. All conventional jet engines can intake air at only around Mach 0.5; therefore the air needs to be slowed from the Mach 2.0 airspeed that enters the engine inlet. In particular, Concorde needed to control the shock waves that this reduction in speed generates to avoid damage to the engines. This was done by a pair of ramps and an auxiliary flap, whose position was moved during flight to slow the air down. The ramps were at the top of the engine compartment and moved down and the auxiliary flap moved both up and down allowing air to flow in or out. During takeoff, when the engine's air demand was high, the ramps were flat at the top and the auxiliary flap was in, allowing more air to enter the engine. As the aircraft approached Mach 0.7, the flap closed; at Mach 1.3, the ramps came into effect, removing air from the engines which was then used in the pressurisation of the cabin. At Mach 2.0, the ramps had covered half their total possible distance. They also helped reduce the work done by the compressors as they not only compressed the air but also increased the air temperature.
Engine failure causes large problems on conventional subsonic aircraft; not only does the aircraft lose thrust on that side but the engine is a large source of drag, causing the aircraft to yaw and bank in the direction of the failed engine. If this had happened to Concorde at supersonic speeds, it could theoretically have caused a catastrophic failure of the airframe. However, during an engine failure air intake needs are virtually zero, so in Concorde the immediate effects of the engine failure were countered by the opening of the auxiliary flap and the full extension of the ramps, which deflected the air downwards past the engine, gaining lift and streamlining the engine, minimising the drag effects of the failed engine. In tests, Concorde was able to shut down both engines on the same side of the aircraft at Mach 2 without any control problems.
The aircraft used reheat (afterburners) at take-
Due to jet engines being highly inefficient at low speeds, Concorde burned two tonnes of fuel taxiing to the runway. To conserve fuel only the two outer engines were run after landing. The thrust from two engines was sufficient for taxiing to the ramp due to low aircraft weight upon landing at its destination. A Concorde once ran out of fuel taxiing to the terminal after a flight; the pilot was dismissed.
Beside engines, the hottest part of the structure of any supersonic aircraft is the nose. The engineers wanted to use (duralumin) aluminium throughout the aircraft, due to its familiarity, cost and ease of construction. The highest temperature that aluminium could sustain over the life of the aircraft was 127 °C, which limited the top speed to Mach 2.02.
Concorde went through two cycles of heating and cooling during a flight, first cooling down as it gained altitude, then heating up after going supersonic. The reverse happened when descending and slowing down. This had to be factored into the metallurgical modelling. Owing to the heat generated by compression of the air as Concorde travelled supersonically, the fuselage would extend by as much as 300 mm (almost 1 ft), the most obvious manifestation of this being a gap that opened up on the flight deck between the flight engineer's console and the bulkhead. On all Concordes that had a supersonic retirement flight, the flight engineers placed their hats in this gap before it cooled, where the hats remain to this day. In the Seattle museum's Concorde a protruding cap was cut off by a thief in an apparent attempt to steal it, leaving a part behind. An amnesty led to the severed cap being returned.
In order to keep the cabin cool, Concorde used the fuel as a heatsink for the heat from the air conditioning. The same method also cooled the hydraulics. During supersonic flight the windows in the cockpit became too hot to touch.
Concorde also had restrictions on livery; the majority of the surface had to be white to avoid overheating the aluminium structure due to the supersonic heating effects of Mach 2. In 1996, however, Air France briefly painted F-
Due to the high speeds at which Concorde travelled, large forces were applied to the aircraft structure during banks and turns. This caused twisting and the distortion of the aircraft's structure. This was resolved by the neutralisation of the outboard elevons at high speeds. Only the innermost elevons, which are attached to the strongest area of the wings, are active at high speed.
Additionally, the relatively narrow height of the fuselage meant that the aircraft flexed more, particularly during takeoff, and pilots were able to look back down the cabin and see this occurring, but it was less visible from most of the passengers' viewpoints.
Due to a relatively high average takeoff speed of 250 mph (400 km/h), Concorde needed good brakes. Concorde's brakes were one of the first major users of anti-
The brakes were carbon-
Concorde needed to travel between London and New York or Washington nonstop, and to achieve this the designers gave Concorde the greatest range of any supersonic aircraft at the time (since beaten by the Tu-
Nevertheless, soon after Concorde began flying, a Concorde "B" design was produced with more powerful engines, the fuel-
The high altitude at which Concorde cruised meant passengers received almost twice the flux of extra-
Concorde fuselageAirliner cabins are usually pressurized to 6-
Concorde's famous drooping nose was a compromise between the need for a streamlined design to reduce drag and increase aerodynamic efficiency in flight and the need for the pilot to see properly during taxi, takeoff, and landing operations. A delta-
A controller in the cockpit allowed the visor to be retracted and the nose to be lowered to 5° below the standard horizontal position for taxiing and takeoff. Following takeoff and after clearing the airport, the nose and visor were raised. Shortly before landing, the visor was again retracted and the nose lowered to 12.5° below horizontal for maximum visibility. Upon landing, the nose was quickly raised to the five-
A final possible position had the visor retracted into the nose but the nose in the standard horizontal position. This setup was used for cleaning the windscreen and for short subsonic flights.
The two prototype Concordes had two fixed "glass holes" on their retractable visors.
Scheduled flights began on 21 January 1976 on the London-
When the US 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 707, 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.[history source needed] 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).
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 -
In 1985, British Airways had a Concorde land at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport for a special flight between Cleveland Hopkins and London Heathrow. When it made its Cleveland appearance it brought Cleveland international attention and it also paved the way for Hopkins Airport to become an international airport. In 2000, Concorde was scheduled to return to Cleveland for a special flight, but due to the crash of Concorde Flight 4590 in Paris, this flight was postponed. The 1985 flight was three hours and ten minutes from Cleveland to London. It had to fly subsonic from New York to Cleveland and this route added some time. There was talk of adding a Concorde flight to Cleveland, but due to Cleveland's airport being near a residential area, this plan was not carried out.
The Eastbound record was set by the same Air France Concorde F-
In 1977, British Airways and Singapore Airlines shared a Concorde for flights between Bahrain and Singapore International Airport. The aircraft, BA Concorde G-
Between 1984 and 1991, British Airways flew a thrice-
From 1978 to 1980, Braniff International Airways leased ten Concordes, five each from British Airways and Air France. These were used on subsonic flights between Dallas-
Passenger experience on Concorde differed in many ways from that on subsonic commercial airliners. British Airways and Air France configured the passenger cabin as a single class with 100 seats — four seats across with a central aisle. Headroom in the central aisle was barely six feet (1.8 m) and the leather seats were unusually narrow, with legroom at a 38-
In the 1990s, features which were common in the first class and business class cabins of a long-
To make up for these missing "comfort" features, a high level of passenger service was maintained. Meals were served using specially designed compact Wedgwood crockery with short silver cutlery.
The experience of passing through the sound barrier was accompanied by a slight surge in acceleration, and was announced by one of the pilots.
At twice a conventional airliner's cruising altitude, the view from the windows clearly showed the curvature of the Earth, and turbulence was rare. During the supersonic cruise, although the outside air temperature was typically -
Concorde flew fast enough that the weight of everyone onboard was temporarily reduced by about 1% when flying east. This was due to centrifugal effects since the airspeed added to the rotation speed of the Earth. Flying west, the weight increased by about 0.3%, because it cancelled out the normal rotation and, with it, the normal centrifugal force and replaced it with a smaller rotation in the opposite direction. Concorde flew high enough that the weight of everyone onboard was reduced by an additional 0.6% due to the increased distance from the centre of the Earth.
Concorde's cruising speed exceeded the top speed of the solar terminator. Concorde was able to overtake or outrun the spin of the earth. On westbound flights it was possible to arrive at a local time earlier than the flight's departure time. On certain early evening transatlantic flights departing from Heathrow or Paris, it was possible to take off just after sunset and catch up with the sun, landing in daylight. This was much publicised by British Airways, who used the slogan "Arrive before you leave."
In regular service, Concorde employed a relatively efficient cruise-
With no other civil traffic operating at its cruising altitude of about 56,000 feet, dedicated oceanic airways or "tracks" were used by Concorde to cross the Atlantic. These SST, ("Super-
Track Sierra Mike (SM); A uni-
Track Sierra November (SN); A uni-
Track Sierra Oscar (SO); A bi-
Track Sierra Papa (SP); A uni-
Due to the nature of high altitude winds, these SST tracks were fixed in terms of their co-
On 25 July 2000, Air France Flight 4590, registration F-
According to the official investigation conducted by the French accident investigation bureau (BEA), the crash was caused by a titanium strip, part of a thrust reverser, that fell from a Continental Airlines DC-
Others have disputed the BEA report, citing evidence that the Air France Concorde was overweight, had unbalanced distribution in the fuel tanks, and lacked a critical spacer in the landing gear which caused it to veer. They came to the conclusion that the aircraft veered course on the runway, which reduced take-
Prior to the accident, Concorde had been arguably the safest operational passenger airliner in the world in terms of passenger deaths-
The accident subsequently led to a programme of modifications, including more secure electrical controls, Kevlar lining to the fuel tanks and specially-
The first test-
The first BA passenger flight took place on 11 September 2001, and was in the air during the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States. This was not a revenue flight, as all the passengers were BA employees.
Normal commercial operations resumed on 7 November 2001 by BA and AF (aircraft G-
British Airways and Air France simultaneously announced that they would retire Concorde later that year. They cited low passenger numbers following the 25 July 2000 crash, the slump in air travel following 9/11 and rising maintenance costs.
That same day, Sir Richard Branson offered to buy British Airways' Concordes at their "original price of £1" for service with his Virgin Atlantic Airways. Branson claimed this to be the same token price that British Airways had paid the British Government, but BA denied this and refused the offer. The real cost of buying the aircraft was £26 million each but the money for buying the aircraft was loaned by the government -
After posting large losses on their Concorde flights in the early 1980s, British Airways paid a flat sum of £16.5 million in 1984 to the UK government to buy their Concordes outright. 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. Although BA refused to open the accounts, it has been reported to be up to £50 million per year in the most profitable year and a total revenue of £1.75 billion on costs of £1 billion.
Branson wrote in The Economist (23 October 2003) that his final offer was "over £5 million" and that he had intended to operate the fleet "for many years to come." Any hope of Concorde remaining in service was further thwarted by Airbus' unwillingness to provide maintenance support for the ageing airframes.
It has been suggested that Concorde was not withdrawn for the reasons usually given, but that during the grounding of the Concordes it became apparent to the airlines that they could actually make more revenue carrying their first class passengers subsonically.
It has also been suggested that the precipitous Air France retirement of its own Concorde fleet was the direct result of a secret conspiracy between Air France Chairman/CEO Jean-
Air France made its final commercial Concorde landing in the United States in New York City from Paris on 30 May 2003. Fire trucks sprayed the traditional arcs of water above F-
An auction of Concorde parts and memorabilia for Air France was held at Christie's in Paris on 15 November 2003. Thirteen hundred people attended, with several lots exceeding their predicted values by an order of magnitude.
Two French Concordes at Le Bourget and Toulouse have been run occasionally, and it is possible that they could be prepared for future flights for special occasions.
BA's last Concorde departure from Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados was on 30 August 2003. BA conducted a mini North American farewell tour in October 2003. G-
In a final week of farewell flights around the United Kingdom, Concorde visited Birmingham on 20 October, Belfast on 21 October, Manchester on 22 October, Cardiff on 23 October, and Edinburgh on 24 October. Each day the aircraft made a return flight out and back into Heathrow to the cities concerned, often overflying those cities at low altitude. Over 650 competition winners and 350 special guests were carried.
On 22 October, Heathrow ATC arranged for the inbound flight BA9021C, a special from Manchester, and BA002 from New York to land simultaneously on the left and right runways respectively.
On the evening of 23 October 2003, the Queen consented to the illumination of Windsor Castle as Concorde's last west-
British Airways retired its aircraft the next day, 24 October. G-
All of BA's Concordes have been grounded, have lost their airworthiness certificates and have been drained of hydraulic fluid. Ex-
On 1 December 2003, Bonhams held an auction of British Airways' Concorde artifacts at Kensington Olympia, in London. Items sold included a Machmeter, nose cone, pilot and passenger seats, cutlery, ashtrays and blankets used on board. Proceeds of about £750,000 resulted, with the first half-
BA announced in March 2007 that they would not be renewing their contract for the prime advertising spot at entrance to London's Heathrow Airport, where, since 1990, a 40% scale model of Concorde was located. The owners of the site, BAA wanted to charge £1.6 million per year to let it. It will now be occupied by an Emirates Airbus 380. The Concorde model, which bears the "registration" G-
In total, 20 Concordes were built, six for development and 14 for commercial service.
16 production aircraft
The first two of these did not enter commercial service
Of the 14 that flew commercially, 12 were still in service in April 2003
All but two of these aircraft, a remarkably high percentage for any commercial fleet, are preserved; the two that are not preserved are F-
Along with a dedicated group of French volunteer engineers keeping one of the youngest Concordes (F-
Although only a "static" example, Concorde G-
The reaction of people to the prospect of severe overflying noise represented a socially important change. Prior to Concorde's flight trials, the developments made by the civil aviation industry were largely accepted by developed democratic governments and their electors. The popular backlash (particularly on the eastern seaboard of the USA) against the noise of Concorde represented a political turning-
Carol Vendi, one of the key protesters of the "SST" (Super Sonic Transport -
Concorde produced nitrogen oxides in its exhaust, which, despite complicated chemical interactions with other ozone-
From this perspective, Concorde's technical leap forward can be viewed as boosting the public's (and the media's) understanding of conflicts between technology and the environment. In France, the use of acoustic fencing alongside TGV tracks might not have been achieved without the 1970s furore over aircraft noise. In Britain, the CPRE have issued tranquility maps since 1990 and public agencies are starting to do likewise.
Concorde travelled, per passenger, 17 miles for each gallon of fuel (mpg) (or 20 l/100km). This efficiency is comparable to a Gulfstream G550 business jet (~16 mpg or 18 l/100 km per passenger), but much lower than a Boeing 747-
Concorde was normally perceived as a privilege of the rich, but special circular or one-
Her mystique was such that an overflight would frequently temporarily halt day-
The aircraft was usually referred to by the British as simply "Concorde" and the French as le Concorde as if there were only one. Concorde's pilots and British Airways in official publications and videos often refer to Concorde both in the singular and plural as 'she' or 'her'.
Concorde remains a powerful symbol, both for its technology and sculptural shape. It is a symbol of great national pride to many in Britain and France; in France it was thought of as a French aircraft, in Britain as British.
As a symbol of national pride, a plane from the BA fleet made occasional flypasts at selected Royal events, major air shows and other special occasions, sometimes in formation with the Red Arrows. On the final day of commercial service, public interest was so great that grandstands were erected at London's Heathrow Airport to afford a view of the final arrivals. Crowds filled the boundary road around the airport and there was extensive media coverage.
The only other supersonic airliner in direct competition with Concorde was the Soviet Tu-
As a result of a rushed development programme, the Tu-
The American design was to have been larger, seating 300. It was also intended to reach higher speeds of up to Mach 3.0, which made the construction more difficult, as high temperatures ruled out the use of duralumin with design calculations that showed that the extra speed would have only cut Concorde's transatlantic travel by 20 minutes. Running a few years behind Concorde, the extra costs of these features may have helped to kill the project. The discovery from flights of the XB-
In November 2003, EADS, parent company of the Airbus aircraft manufacturing company, announced that it was considering working with Japanese companies to develop a larger, faster replacement for Concorde. However, recent news reports suggest only $1m is being invested every year into research, much less than the $1bn needed for the development of a viable supersonic airliner.
In October 2005, JAXA, the Japan Aerospace eXploration Agency, undertook aerodynamic testing of a scale model of an airliner designed to carry 300 passengers at Mach 2. If pursued to commercial deployment, it would be expected to be in service around 2020 -
Research into supersonic business jets continues. The British company Reaction Engines Limited, with 50% EU money, are researching LAPCAT, a design for a hydrogen-
Length: 202 ft 4 in (61.66 m)
Wingspan: 84 ft 0 in (25.6 m)
Height: 40 ft 0 in (12.2 m)
Fuselage internal length: 129 ft 0 in (39.32 m)
Fuselage max external width: 9 ft 5 in (2.88 m)
Fuselage max internal width: 8 ft 7 in (2.63 m)
Fuselage max external height: 10 ft 10 in (3.32 m)
Fuselage max internal height: 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Wing area: 3,856 ft² (358.25 m² ))
Empty weight: 173,500 lb (78,700 kg)
Useful load: 245,000 lb (111,130 kg)
Powerplant: 4× Rolls-
Dry thrust: 32,000 lbf (140 kN) each
Thrust with afterburner: 38,050 lbf (169 kN) each
Maximum fuel load: 210,940 lb (95,680 kg)
Maximum taxiing weight: 412,000 lb (186,880 kg
Maximum speed: Mach 2.2 (2,164 km/h)
Range: 3,900 nmi (4,500 mi, 7,250 km)
Service ceiling: 60,000 ft (18,300 m)
Rate of climb: 1,525 m (5,000 ft) /min (25,41 m/s)
Lift/drag ratio: Low speed-
Fuel consumption for max. range (max. fuel/max. range): 46.85 lb/mi (13.2 kg/km)
Maximum nose tip temperature: 260 °F (127 °C)
In the late 1950s, the United Kingdom, France, United States and Soviet Union were
considering developing supersonic transport. Britain's Bristol Aeroplane Company
and France's Sud Aviation were both working on designs, called the Type 233 and Super-
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-
At first the new consortium intended to produce two versions of the aircraft, one
long range and one short range. However, prospective customers showed no interest
in the short-
© 2011 concordeaerocollection.co.uk