13 things you didn’t know about the iconic Concorde planes.
It’s been 17 years since the Concorde performed its last flight. For 27 years, the Concorde was the ultimate luxury in air travel, but in 2003, Air France and British Airways announced they would be retiring their Concorde fleets.
Both carriers, the only airlines to purchase and fly Concorde, blamed low passenger numbers and rising maintenance costs.
Passenger numbers fell after the year 2000 crash that killed all 109 people on board and four on the ground.
Now, there are plans to put a similar commercial supersonic jet into service.
While we wait to see a new and safer jet take to the skies, AutoJosh wants you to read 13 things you didn’t know about the iconic Concorde planes.
The Concorde was jointly developed and manufactured Aérospatiale and the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) under an Anglo-French treaty.
Just twenty aircrafts were built. These includes six prototypes and development aircraft.
2) Service years
First flown in 1969, the 92 to 128 passenger jet entered service in 1976 and continued flying for the next 27 years.
3) Patronised by the wealthy
It was used mainly by wealthy passengers who could afford to pay a high price in exchange for the aircraft’s speed and luxury service.
4) Each trip is 30 times the cost of a normal passenger flight
A round-trip ticket price from New York to London in 1997 was $7,995 ($12,700 in 2019). This is more than 30 times the cost of the cheapest option to fly this route.
5) Top speed
The turbojet-powered jet had a maximum speed of Mach 2.04 (1,354 mph or 2,180 km/h) at cruise altitude, which is over twice the speed of sound.
Regular passenger planes travel at between 500 and 600mph.
6) Sonic boom
The sonic boom was one of Concorde’s failings when it was still in service . The sound rattled and broke windows and it also frightened both humans and animals.
The thunderous sound was caused by series of shock waves coming from the Concorde’s nose, wings and engines as it flies faster than the speed of sound (1,240kph, 770mph or Mach 1, at sea level).
That’s why Concorde planes were never permitted to fly at full and supersonic speeds over land (they were restricted to subsonic speeds on land)
7) Fastest crossing of the Atlantic
Till date, the fastest transatlantic crossing belongs to British Airways Concorde jet.
The supersonic aircraft flew from New York to London in just “2 hours 52 minutes” and 59 seconds, on February 7th 1996, hitting a top speed of 1,350mph.
Normally, it takes a little over seven hours to complete the route with subsonic aircraft.
8) The aircraft stretches when flying
The supersonic jet could stretch anywhere from 6-10 inches during flight because the heating of the airframe was so intense.
9) It is inefficient at low speeds
The Concorde is highly fuel-efficient when operating at Mach 2, that’s twice the speed of sound.
But due to its design, it could burn up to two tons of fuel when simply taxiing to and from the runway.
10) Concorde is one of only two supersonic commercial jets
The Concorde is one of only two supersonic transports to have been operated commercially.
Its rival, the Soviet-built Tupolev Tu-144, is known as the first commercial aircraft to exceed Mach 2.
The Tupolev Tu-144 took its first flight three months before the Concorde.
11) Also used as a freighter
Air couriers use it to carry human organs, diamonds, and currency, taking advantage of Concorde’s superfast speeds.
12) It had one major crash during its service years
On 25 July 2000, Air France Flight 4590 crashed after takeoff in Paris, erupting into flames, killing all 100 passengers and nine crew members on board as well as four people on the ground.
According to reports, the accident was caused by a piece of titanium that had fallen from another aircraft. The metal debris shredded one of the Concorde’s tyres, propelling rubber into the fuel tanks and sparking a fire.
The crash was the only fatal accident involving Concorde.
13) Fleet grounded
After the crash, all of BA’s Concorde fleet were grounded, drained of hydraulic fluid and their airworthiness certificates withdrawn.
In 2004, Jock Lowe, ex-chief Concorde pilot and manager, estimated that it would cost £10–15 million to make G-BOAF ( one of several Concorde) airworthy again.