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Old 6th Sep 2010, 08:17
  #222 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: FL 600. West of Mongolia
Posts: 462
Coffin Corner

Nick Thomas
Just like Christiaanj I'm trying to dig up an accurate flight envelope diagram. (A lot of my Concorde 'technical library' is out on long term loan), but I would suggest that anywhere within Concorde's published flight envelope you never hit any equivilant to Coffin Corner, a la' U2. The whole issue is really one of air DENSITY, rather that pressure, where as you climb at a given Mach Number, your Indicated airspeed (IAS) falls away with altitude. (Velocity of sound being primarily tied to static air temperature). Now if you are climbing in the stratosphere, where temperature is more or less constant up to around 65,000', you can say that your TRUE Airspeed (TAS) is also constant with climb at a given Mach number. But lift and drag are functions of IAS (the equivalent airspeed that the aircraft would 'feel' at sea level) and not TAS. Because the U2 had a very low Maximum allowable Mach number (Mmo) as IAS fell away with altitude, it would get to the point where it's lowest permitted airspeed (we called this VLA) got to within a few knots of Mmo and severe aerodynamic buffering. i.e. you were screwed with nowhere to go but down .
In the case of Concorde, Mach 2 at FL500 was 530KTS, falling to 430KTS at FL600. Although we have less lift due to 100KTS lower IAS, the aircraft is now much lighter (this is the whole principal of cruise/climb) which keeps the universe in balance, but drag is now significantly lower too, getting us better MPG .
On the ASI, the only limitation displayed was Vmo; however the Machmeter did display fwd and aft CG limits at a given Mach number. The ONLY time that Concorde would experience relatively low speeds at altitude was at Top of Descent. I'm a little fuzzy here how it all worked exactly (it's an age thing you know), I'm sure one of the pilots can correct me, but I seem to remember that the autothrottle was disconnected, ALTITUDE HOLD was selected on the AFCS, and the throttles slowly retarded. (If you pulled back too far you'd often get a gentle 'pop surge' from the engines, and you had also to be wary of equipment cooling airflow too). The aircraft was then allowed to gently decelerate, still at TOD altitude, until Mach 1.6, when power was tweaked to give 350KTS IAS and IAS HOLD was selected. The aircraft was now free to carry out her loooong descent to 'normal' altitudes. VLA on Concorde was not directly displayed as you never flew anywhere near it, and also every pilot knew his VLA . (Stray into this and you'd get a 'stick' shaker warning.
I hope this blurb helps Nick

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