The legendary Concorde was raised between 1976 and 2003. Associated with glitz, glamour, and speed, he has become a true icon of the air. So why is this unusual aircraft not used in business today? In this article, we will talk about what happened to the world’s first supersonic airliner.
First takeoff of the Concorde
Created in the 1960s, the Concorde was designed to bring people together as well as to travel between continents. The potential for commercial travelers was clear. Routes such as crossing the Atlantic are completed twice as fast at supersonic speeds. The Concorde was the aircraft that made those dreams come true, taking passengers from New York to London in three hours.
France and Britain came together, signed a “consent” and gave the idea a name in the process. BAC (British Aircraft Corporation) and Aerospatiale were responsible for design, along with Rolls Royce and SNECMA. The Concorde designers had a nose for innovation. The plane was special in many ways. It was the first supersonic commercial aircraft.
Concorde takes off from the runway on its first flight. His nose will become an iconic identifying feature:
It is the pointed, adjustable nose that is what people most think of when they think of the Concorde. The idea was that it could be lowered on the runway for maximum visibility and then lifted into the air for smooth and aerodynamic results.
The engine was an Olympus 593 turbojet engine, which was developed by Rolls Royce and SNECMA engineers.
Four engines powered the Concorde using reheat technology, adding fuel to the last stage of the engine. This gave it the extra power it needed to take off and transition to supersonic flight.
The double delta wing helped the 200-odd-meter Concorde to achieve such results. Its shape proved to be decisive for breaking the sound barrier. The Concorde was the first aircraft to control its engine intake via a computer. This allowed the aircraft to regulate the flow of air entering its engines. The liner was moving at a speed of Mach 2.4, which is twice the speed of sound.
Despite its brilliant overall design, the Concorde experienced many difficulties in keeping aloft. Theory is great, but practice has a habit of bringing things back to earth. For many airlines, the liner has become a liability due to its status as a fuel eater. The oil crisis in 1973, three years before Concorde went commercial, drove up prices.
An attractive airliner has become a symbol of prestige. It seemed like Concorde was built for exclusivity, not efficiency. The plane had 100 seats, which is not much by today’s standards. The initial interest of a few companies dwindled to a couple of big names — British Airways and Air France. They had seven Concordes out of 20 built.
In addition, the Concorde represented higher flight standards. But there was a problem: noise. The supersonic journey included a deafening sonic boom. The big-nosed beauty was forced to fly over the water to disturb only the fish. Even then, locals complained about the noise as planes took off and landed from places like Heathrow.
Air France Flight 4590 crash
An Air France 4590 caught fire on takeoff from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. It fell in the suburb of Gonessa, where 113 people tragically died.
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The wreckage of Concorde Flight 4590 after the crash in Gonesse, France, July 25, 2000:
What caused the fire? The tire reportedly burst, puncturing the fuel tank. The design was changed, but by 2003 the Conchord fleet had landed and was no longer taking off. This horrific accident did not destroy Concord, but is considered one of the contributing factors to its closure. If the crash of 2000 didn’t end Concorde, what did?
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Why did the Concorde stop flying?
Ultimately, the Concorde was both ahead of the curve and at the same time hampered by various 20th-century issues. The plane ate fuel, was too noisy, and the clientele was prestigious, but not numerous due to the high cost of tickets. One reason was Wall Street’s post‑9/11 cutbacks in travel budgets and the sharp rise in maintenance costs.
Despite all of the above, the aircraft leaves many happy memories of more ambitious times. The hope is that supersonic travel will make a comeback in some form. Will the same elegant and memorable liner as the Concorde ever be created? Hardly…
You can see the plane at the Intrepid Museum in New York, about which there is a separate article on LifeGlobe.net.