Concorde, supersonic airplane


The Anglo-French supersonic Concorde was once the world’s most advanced aircraft, and the only supersonic airliner to serve regular routes across the Atlantic, for both British Airways and Air France. At an 18,000 meter cruising altitude and a speed of 2,200 km/h - over twice the speed of sound (Mach 2.04) - the Concorde could reach New York in around 3.5 hours.

With a length of 62.6 m and a span width of 25.6 m, it was powered by 4 Rolls Royce/Snecma Olympus 593 engines producing over 17,000 h.p. per unit. It made its maiden flight in 1969 and its last flight in 2003. The Concorde F-BVFB shown here was flown to Baden Airport on 24.06.2003, then disassembled and transported to the Auto & Technik Museum Sinsheim, Germany in very spectacular fashion by road and river. Concorde’s final journey, but the start of a new career with many visiting “passengers”!

In flight, the heating of the frame of the Concorde would cause it to stretch by up to 300 mm (6 to 10 inches). The reflective white paint was specially developed to spread the heat caused by supersonic flight. Even the windows became warm to the touch during a flight.

• Concorde underwent 5,000 hours of tests before being certified.
• There was space for 92–128 passengers on board.
• The speed required at take-off was 450 kph (250 mph) and when Concorde landed it would be travelling at 300 kph (187 mph).
• Only 20 Concordes were ever built, with only 7 in operation under British Airways and 7 under Air France, the remaining 6 being prototypes and development craft.
• The frame was designed to be suitable for 45,000 flying hours.

Up in the air
Concordes flew at a much higher altitude than other regular passenger jets – around 56,000 ft (17,000 m) as compared to a maximum of 40,000 ft (12,000 m). This meant its pathways were clear and it avoided the jetstreams across the Atlantic – both improving crossing time and fuel efficiency.

The year 2000 saw the first and only Concorde crash – all 100 passengers and 9 crew members died. Investigations showed a series of events led to the disaster in which the plane was already on fire at takeoff, but unable to abort takeoff due to its speed and the length of the remaining runway. Despite modifications being made to other Concordes following the investigation, other factors such as a drop in air travel generally led to its being decommissioned in 2003.

Concorde was an immensely important and technologically advanced achievement in its heyday – the 1970s and 1980s – but by the time the 2000s came around, its analog cockpit was outdated. Despite being decommissioned and disassembled, Concorde remains an iconic symbol of aviation engineering.
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