in Aerospace / Events

Remembering first UK-built Concorde flight

Posted 9 April 2019 · Add Comment

Fifty years ago today, Brian Trubshaw piloted the first UK-built Concorde from Filton to RAF Fairford.

Above: A British Airways Concorde.
Courtesy British Airways


Jointly developed and built by the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) - later BAe and BAE Systems - and Sud Aviation (later Aérospatiale) under an Anglo-French treaty, 20 Concorde aircraft were produced (including development aircraft and six prototypes).

The only airlines to actually purchase and fly Concorde were Air France and British Airways (BA), which on the 25th of August this year will be celebrating its centenary.

BA's Concorde made just under 50,000 flights and flew more than 2.5m passengers supersonically. With a take off speed of 220 knots (250mph) and a cruising speed of 1350mph – more than twice the speed of sound - a typical London to New York crossing would take a little less than three and a half hours as opposed to about eight hours for a subsonic flight. In November 1986 a British Airways Concorde flew around the world, covering 28,238 miles in 29 hours, 59 minutes.

Concorde used the most powerful pure jet engines flying commercially, manufactured by Rolls-Royce. The Aircraft's four engines took advantage of what is known as ‘reheat’ technology, adding fuel to the final stage of the engine, which produced the extra power required for take-off and the transition to supersonic flight.  Concorde’s fastest transatlantic crossing was on 7 February 1996 when it completed the New York to London flight in 2 hours 52 minutes and 59 seconds.

Concorde measured nearly 204ft in length and stretched between 6 and 10 inches in flight due to heating of the airframe. It was painted in a specially developed white paint to accommodate these changes and to dissipate the heat generated by supersonic flight. A team of about 250 British Airways' engineers worked tirelessly, together with the relevant authorities, to ensure safety on board and Concorde was subjected to 5,000 hours of testing before it was first certified for passenger flight, making it the most tested aircraft ever.



On 24th October 2003, British Airways withdrew Concorde, bringing to a close the world’s only supersonic passenger service. The final scheduled commercial flight was BA002 from JFK operated by G-BOAG.

BA’s fleet of seven aircraft were subsequently dispersed for preservation at Barbados (AE), Edinburgh (AA), Filton (AF), Manchester (AC), New York (AD) and Seattle (AG) with one (AB) remaining at Heathrow.

 

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