Concorde

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Concorde
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About Concorde

The Concorde has its roots in the 1950s. Discussions started in Britain about developing a supersonic transport (SST) airplane. Soon a committee was established called STAC (Supersonic Transport Aircraft Committee) with a number of representatives from airlines, aircraft manufacturers, engine builders and the government.
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Manufacturers in Britain (Bristol) and France (Sud) were both working on ideas for supersonic airliners. Bristol (later merged into BAC - British Aircraft Corporation) worked on the Bristol 233 design and Sud Aviation in France (later Aérospatiale) on the Super Caravelle. The two designs looked very similar and because of the high costs involved in developing such an aircraft, it was decided to collaborate.
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In 1962 the French and British governments signed an agreement for the development of an SST. Although Sud wanted a short range aircraft to replace the Caravelle, the Concorde became a long-range airliner, because the advantages of high speed are biggest on long-range flights. The British at first named the aircraft 'Concord' and the French 'Concorde'. In 1967 it was decided that the name would be 'Concorde', although this didn't always comply with British nationalistic feelings.
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The Concorde needed a very long development program. Prototype Concorde 001, built by Aérospatiale in its Toulouse plant, flew for the first time on 2 March 1969. The first time that the aircraft broke the sound barrier was on 1 October 1969. Concorde 002, built by BAC at Filton, Bristol, had its maiden flight on 9 April 1969. From the first flight it took almost seven years until the supersonic airliner became operational - in January 1976.
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The Concorde looks quite different compared to conventional subsonic airliners. To minimize drag the Concorde is a very slender aircraft which offers only four-abreast seating. The slender delta wing, however, gives the aircraft a very elegant appearance. Further complex design features are a fuel system that transferred fuel between tanks for balancing the aircraft, the remarkable variable geometry nose that in its lowered position improves the pilot's view from the cockpit during takeoff, landing and taxiing, and fly by wire.
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The engines were a version of the Rolls-Royce/Snecma Olympus, specially adapted for application in the Concorde. The engines were fitted with afterburners like a military jet fighter.
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Concorde British Airways

A British Airways Concorde is towed to London Heathrow's Terminal 4 to be prepared for a flight to New York.


Concorde

A British Airways Concorde in old colours is towed to the technical area of London Heathrow.


Air France
An Air France Concorde is taxiing to the runway at Paris Charles de Gaulle.

Thanks to a sales tour beginning in September 1971 the Concorde secured orders for more than 70 aircraft. The first customers were (government-backed) BOAC (now British Airways) and Air France, of course. Many other big airlines ordered the type, including Air Canada, Air India, American Airlines, Braniff, Japan Airlines, Lufthansa, Middle East Airlines, Pan Am, Qantas, TWA and United Airlines. But in the end only twenty Concordes were built: two prototypes, two preproduction aicraft and sixteen production aircraft.
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Many orders were cancelled because of the 1973 Oil Crisis (resulting in escalating fuel prices), financial problems with airlines, the crash of a competing Tupolev Tu-144 SST at the Paris Le Bourget Air Show in 1973, worries about the sonic boom and pollution. Only two airlines remained: British Airways and Air France. These airlines sometimes flew in cooperation with other airlines like Braniff and Singapore Airlines.
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Because of the small number of Concordes produced, the price per aircraft would become astronomical. The governments sold the aircraft for a symbolic amount of money: one pound a piece.
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Concorde started operations on January 21, 1976. Aircraft of British Airways from London and Air France from Paris 'met' at New York J.F. Kennedy Airport. Other destinations flown by Concordes included Washington, Singapore and Dallas. BA and AF also operated charter and leisure flights.
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On 25 July 2000 an Air France Concorde crashed just after takeoff from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, killing all passengers on board. Concorde flights were stopped for some time, but after modifications the aircraft restarted flights. However it was not any more as it was. Air France ended commercial flights with the Concorde on May 30 2003. British Airways continued flights until 24 October 2003.
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British Airways
A British Airways Concorde at London Heathrow.



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