The Aerospatiale/BAC Concorde
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The Aerospatiale/BAC Concorde

The Aerospatiale/BAC Concorde: A Supersonic Transport Aircraft

Image by wikipedia 

If you are opting for the fastest way to travel in commuter style back in late 70s to early 2000 you are looking into the Aerospatiale/BAC Concorde, then the only Mach 2 capable airliner of choice (since Russia's Tu-144 was grounded in 1983). It was a supersonic transport aircraft design which was brought to the drawing board and made possible by the collaboration of two powerful European Aerospace companies, Aerospatiale of France and British Aircraft Corporation of United Kingdom. Aerospatiale had been known for its leadership in building civil and military aircraft, rockets and satellites while BAC's experience had been proven in the design of powerful Cold War jet fighters and bombers which produced such striking aircraft as the TSR-2 and the Vulcan Bomber so there's no questioning what the concerted efforts of these two powerful aviation companies could do. As it was told, the design began as a separate project for the two aviation firms representing France and United Kingdom but later ended as a joint venture when both  realized that the design concept was too expensive for one company to put into production. The agreement to develop the supersonic design as a joint project occurred in 1962 with the approval of both governments of two nations concerned which gave rise to the model name “Concorde”, a French equivalent of the English word “concord” which means agreement, harmony or partnership to attain a common goal.

concorde 2

Image by wikipedia

A delta winged supersonic airliner made famous with its drooped nose when taxiing for take-off and landing for better pilot visibility first took off with two of its prototypes, one from France and another from the UK in 1969. Powered by four Rolls-Royce/SNECMA Olympus 593 Mk 610 turbojets with reheat, it has a maximum speed of 1,450 knots (2,333 km/h) or Mach 2.05 at 54, 500 ft. As a joint project, the aircraft assembly and operating systems were developed partly in France (wings, rear cabin section, flight controls, air conditioning, hydraulics, navigation and avionics) and in the United Kingdom (forward fuselage sections, rear fuselage, vertical stabilizer, engine nacelles and ducts, engine installation, electrical, fuel and oxygen systems, noise and thermal insulation). Airline service began in 1976 as the type of aircraft entered service with Air France and British Airways as prime users. Braniff International Airways based in the US and Singapore Airlines also utilized the type on short term lease.

Despite the promising market share as expected of passengers favouring speedy travel, the Concorde faced environmental issues owing to the loud noise it generates during landing and take off thus limiting its production to only 20 units, 6 of which were utilized on non-airline use. At its speed, it could ferry passengers on a typical long haul flights from New York to Paris at a mere 3.5 hours compared to a gruelling 8 hour flight common with commercial subsonic jets. Issues of increased radiation exposure at high altitudes were also taken into consideration requiring the aircraft type to be fitted with radiometer so that the pilot could descend at lower altitudes when the radiation reading climbs beyond tolerable limits. However since Concorde passengers were subjected to shorter radiation exposure due to its supersonic speed, the longer radiation exposure attained in long haul flights with conventional jets was later thought as just comparable. The Concorde ended airline duties in 2003 following low passenger count in after-effect of the Flight 4590 crash in July 2000 at Gonesse, France.


pp. 326, The World's Greatest Aircraft by Christopher Chant

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Comments (17)

Thanks for this, I was trying to remember why they stopped flying them, now I know...

Good Job - Shared


Impressive article about the airplane I love.Thanks

Highly informative about airplanes as usual Will.

I think you should win an award for the thrill you provide with your words and pictures in your extremely well presented articles. Thank you for the enjoyment of this well done material.

A classic of 70s design. Great discussion, DeeBee.

Sorry, I meant Deep Blue.

I made a couple of flights to Europe aboard the Concorde before they stopped flying. It truly was a great aircraft. Beautiful job of writing about it, Deep Blue.

I enjoy reading your plane articles since I am not familiar with the different models..

I'm learning about these planes through you. Thanks you!

very interesting indeed

Thanks for all your inputs everyone. The absence of the Concorde in the airline industry is really such a loss but allowed a few lucky ones like Jerry to experience supersonic flight in all its glory.

Thank you dear Deep blue for your support. Voted up this nice work.

Its good to know more about planes, kabayan. Another good discussion.

Great planes with some amazing speed.

concorde is one of the best airplane ever created