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Old 24th Aug 2010, 08:48
  #88 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: FL 600. West of Mongolia
Posts: 462
M2, it appears the tailwheel was, so far, the only "fault" in an otherwise extreme machine. Were there any other items like the tailwheel that were unworthy to be in her?
Does anyone have a tech drawing of the "sliding seals" used in the hydraulics. I have trouble visualising something that could withstand the 4,000psi pressure. Why was such a high pressure used? After all the control surfaces couldn't have required that much input to effect an authority movement. I understand it was also a special fluid that was used. Was this because of the pressure it was under or the temperature extremes?
The tailwheel design really was the one exception in poor design terms, but I'm sure that if the aircraft was doing what she should be doing right now, (you know routinely flying across the Atlantic and beyond, instead of languishing in museums), modifications would have finally put this particular malady to bed). In design terms, the rest of the aircraft was nothing short of a flying work of art, a masterpiece. Having said that though, personally I would rather that four rather than three hydraulic systems had been used. Originally there were four systems in the design, but the RED system was deleted, as it was felt to be superfluous. My own view is that this particular decision was total poppycock. Oh, and Green, Blue and Yellow hydraulic systems was something else that Airbus copied from Concorde.... although we ourselves pinched that idea off of the Comet ).
As far as the hydraulic expansion joints go, I will scour around and see if I can find a diagram for you. Try and picture two titanium (or stainless) tubes, on inside the other, with a sealed chamber being formed at the join. Inside this chamber were multiple lands fitted with special viton GLT seals. They did work incredibly well, although occasionally one of the seals gave out, and things got wet, VERY WET.
As far as the 4000 PSI hydraulic system, as EXWOK quite rightly pointed out, the loading on the flying control surfaces were immense throughout the whole flight envelope. (Picture alone just the T/O from JFK RWY 31L, where the aircraft is tightly turning and the gear retracting, all at the same time). As well as the flying controls and landing gear, you also had the droop nose to consider, four variable engine intakes as well as a couple of hydraulically operated fuel pumps. Oh, and in emergencies, a hydraulically driven 40 KVA generator too. The reason that 4000 PSI was chosen was that if a large amount of hydraulic 'work' was to be done, the only way to keep the size of jacks and actuators to a reasonable size/weight was to increase the system pressure by 25% from the normal 3000 PSI. (On the A380 they've gone a step further and gone for 5000 PSI, saving them over a tonne on the weight of the aircraft).
Concorde used a special hydraulic fluid, Chevron M2V. This is a mineral based fluid, as opposed to the ester based Skydrol, used by the subsonics. The reason that we went for a different fluid was a simple one; Skydrol is rubbish at the high temperatures that Concorde operated at, no good at all in fact, so we needed something better and in M2V we found the PERFECT fluid. As an aside, unlike Skydrol, that attacks paintwork, certain rubber seals, skin, EYES etc., M2V is completely harmless, wash your hair in it. (I did, several times when we had leaks. Thinking about it, maybe THAT is why my hair is such a diminished asset

It's so great having another of my pilot friends diving in to this post, welcome welcome
I remember the Mech' Signalling part of the air tests, my lunch has just finished coming back up thank you. (for interest chaps and chapesses, with mechanical signalling, using just the conventional control runs under the floor, there was no auto-stabilisation).

The artificialfeel system worked incredibly well I thought, I always found it curious that the peak load law in the computer was at the transonic rather that the supersonic speed range. It was explained to me long ago that this was because the controls really are at their most sensitive here, but at high Mach numbers are partially 'stalled out', due to shockwave movements along the surfaces, and were therefore less effective. (For this reason I was told, the inner elevons were so critical for supersonic control, being the most effective of all elevons at high speed).

To all, I forgot to mention in my previous post regarding the engine failure in G-BOAF in 1980; I remember an FAA surveyor, who was taking a look at the carnage within the engine bay, saying that in his opinion, no other aircraft in the world could have survived the intensity of the titanium fire that ensued. Analysis showed that the fire was successfully extinguished, possibly at the first shot of the fire bottle. This was a testament to the way that the Concorde engine bay could be completely 'locked down' when the fire handle was pulled, as well as to the way that the whole engine installation was technically encased in armour plate. To put all this in context, acording to Rolls Royce a titanium fire, once it takes hold, can destroy the compressor of a jet engine in four seconds.

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