Thursday 21 January 2016

40 years ago today the Concorde entered service

40 years ago today the Concorde entered active service.
Its very first flight was actually on the 2nd March 1969 but its first revenue flight was 21st January 1976. It is one of only two supersonic transports to have ever entered commercial service; the other was the Tupolev Tu-144, which ran for a much shorter period of time, before being grounded and retired due to safety and budget issues.
A total of twenty Concorde aircraft were built at Toulouse in France and Filton in England. There were two prototypes (001-002), two pre-production aircraft (01-02) and sixteen production aircraft (201-216). The first two were retained by the manufacturers, seven were delivered to British Airways and seven to Air France. The first flight of Concorde (001) was on 2nd March 1969. The last flight was on 26th November 2003.
Concorde flew at Mach 2.02-2.04 (approx. 1350mph) and carried 100 passengers to the edge of space at a cruising altitude of 55,000 feet (16765m). On the ground Concorde was 203 feet 9 inches long but stretched by almost 10 inches in flight due to heating of the airframe. The famous swing-nose reached 127 Celsius - a stark contrast to the outside temperature of a subsonic aircraft of -50 Celsius. This high skin temperature also accounted for the excellent condition of the plane because the corrosion effects of moisture in the air were significantly reduced.
The inauguration of commercial supersonic travel by British Airways from London to Bahrain  (G-BOAA 206) and by Air France from Paris to Rio (F-BVFA 205) was on 21st January 1976. Concorde made many firsts and broke numerous records such as the New York to London record which was broken on 7th February 1996 by Captain Leslie Scott in a time of 2 hours 52 minutes 59 seconds.

The aircraft secured orders (i.e., non-binding options) for over 100 of the long-range version from the major airlines of the day: Pan Am, BOAC, and Air France were the launch customers, with six Concorde's each. Other airlines in the order book included Panair do Brasil, Continental Airlines, Japan Airlines, Lufthansa, American Airlines, United Airlines, Air India, Air Canada, Braniff, Singapore Airlines, Iran Air, Olympic Airways, Qantas, CAAC, Middle East Airlines, and TWA.
At the time of the first flight the options list contained 74 options from 16 airlines:
Panair do Brasil3Oct 196110 February 1965
Pan Am63 June 196331 January 19732 extra options in 1964
Air France63 June 19632 extra options in 1964
BOAC63 June 19632 extra options in 1964
324 July 1963Mar 1973
American Airlines47 October 1963Feb 19732 extra options in 1965
TWA416 October 196331 January 19732 extra options in 1965
Middle East Airlines24 December 1963Feb 1973
Qantas619 March 19642 cancelled in May 1966
Air India215 July 1964Feb 1975
Japan Airlines330 September 19651973
Sabena21 December 1965Feb 1973
Eastern Airlines228 June 1966Feb 19732 extra options on 15 August 1966
2 other extra options on 28 April 1967
United Airlines629 June 196626 October 1972
Braniff31 September 1966Feb 1973
Lufthansa316 February 1967Apr 1973
Air Canada41 March 19676 June 1972

I never knew QANTAS had considered ordering the Concorde

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