View Full Version : Concorde Eulogy

4th Jul 2013, 09:26
A nice Concorde eulogy I just read on the BBC website.

BBC - Culture - Concorde: A 20th Century design classic (http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20130529-concorde-on-a-different-plane)

4th Jul 2013, 12:04
In the UK:

We're sorry but this site is not accessible from the UK as it is part of our international service and is not funded by the licence fee. It is run commercially by BBC Worldwide, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the BBC, the profits made from it go back to BBC programme-makers to help fund great new BBC programmes. You can find out more about BBC Worldwide and its digital activities at www.bbcworldwide.com (http://www.bbcworldwide.com/about-us.aspx).

Any other way of getting to see it?

4th Jul 2013, 12:16
Concorde flew for the last time ten years ago. This supremely elegant airliner has yet to be replaced and, in an age of ubiquitous flying buses, cheap flights and long-term recession, perhaps it never will be. Glamorous and exclusive, a technological marvel and a thing of daunting beauty, Concorde belonged to an era that has vanished in a cloud of burned kerosene.
In 2003, there were still people willing to pay through the nose-cone to eat a lunch of canapés, fillet of beef, crème brulée, cheeses and petit fours washed down with four varieties of champagne while the Rolls-Royce Olympus-powered jet scythed through the stratosphere at Mach 2. Through the aircraft’s small windows, passengers could see dark blue space above them and the curvature of the Earth below. At 60,000-ft, they cruised twice the height of Jumbo jets, faster than a bullet and faster than the speed (1,070mph at the Equator) the Earth rotates.
A time machine of sorts, Concorde flew so very fast across the Atlantic that its passengers landed – according to their watches – before they had taken off. The pencil-thin aircraft generated so much heat in the process that its fuselage stretched by up to twelve inches in flight.
Of course, there was a price to pay for this aerial Grand Prix. Fares were for plutocrats, Hollywood stars and those who had saved up for years rather than those in search of cheap holidays in the sun. The aircraft guzzled fuel and it was – although not from the inside – very noisy.
Its presence was unmistakable: Concorde could always be heard before it was seen. That trademark thunderous rumble, as if Jove himself was pushing the clouds apart, caused heads to crane from city streets. “Look! There’s Concorde”, normally blasé Londoners would say, as if there was just the one of these compelling aircraft.
Concorde was a rather singular aircraft. Just fourteen out of the twenty built went into service. When the Anglo-French design made its public debut in Toulouse in 1967, two years before its maiden flight, there was talk of seventy-four orders from sixteen airlines. Pan-Am went so far as to take adverts in the British press welcoming the “aircraft of the future”. The future of flying was, in fact, to be anything but Concorde, or Pan-Am.
How different things had seemed in 1956 – just two years after the Spitfire last flew in regular service with the RAF – when the supersonic programme that launched Concorde took flight. This was the New Elizabethan age when British design and technology were still world-beating, an era in which the talk was of ever higher, ever faster flight.
Entente cordiale
Teaming up with their French rivals, British engineers designed one of the most astonishing aircraft yet to fly, a machine marrying mechanical sorcery with ravishing looks. A much-hyped American rival from Boeing was never built, while the Soviet Tu-144 lookalike never made the grade: one of the sixteen built crashed in front of the world’s cameras at the 1973 Paris Air Show.
Meanwhile, Concorde’s maiden flight in 1969 was within weeks of that of Boeing’s 747 Jumbo jet. Although very safe – just one crashed in a flying career spanning thirty-four years – Concorde was never very profitable even in its best years, unlike the double-deck Jumbo and the airbuses that followed in its wake.
In its last years in service, Concorde’s essentially analogue technology – banks of 1950s-style dials and switches watched over by a Flight Engineer as well as a Captain and First Officer – seemed old-fashioned.
Concorde had only been operated on a regular basis by two airlines, British Airways and Air France. After one of the Air France Concordes crashed shortly after take-off from Paris Charles de Gaulle on 25th July 2000, killing all 100 passengers and nine crew, faith in this peerless and ageing aircraft began to wane. Passenger numbers fell, while maintenance costs rose. BA flew the last Concorde in passenger service on 26th November 2003 and although Sir Richard Branson made a bid for the supersonic fleet, it was not to be. This truly was the end of everyday civil supersonic flight.
A fine romance
Concorde, though, was the stuff of romance in flight, a quality today’s airline executives have little time for. “The problem with aviation is that for fifty years it’s been populated by people who think it’s this wondrous sexual experience; that it’s like James Bond and wonderful and we’ll all be flying first class when really it’s just a bloody bus with wings.” So said Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s Chief Executive Officer, in 2012. He was campaigning for “standing room only” cabins for passengers who would be charged as little as £1 for flights within Europe. “Most people just want to get from A to B. You don’t want to pay £500 for a flight.”
And, yet, for the twenty-seven years British Airways flew Concorde in daily service, there were always people - two and a half million passengers in all - willing to pay a premium to fly by one of the most sensationally beautiful aircraft of all time.
Concorde more than deserves its place in design's hall of fame: no passenger aircraft has ever been so fast, so thrilling and so sensationally beautiful, a flying machine imbued with engineering elegance and yet with the enticing visual simplicity of a perfect paper dart.
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4th Jul 2013, 13:03
After one of the Air France Concordes crashed shortly after take-off from Paris Charles de Gaulle on 25th July 2000, killing all 100 passengers and nine crew, faith in this peerless and ageing aircraft began to wane.

Nothing of the sort. Faith in Air France (quite rightly, it seems, from their subsequent accident record) began to wane - but not in Concorde.

ba was just celebrating the 'Return to Flight' when many of Concorde's regular passengers were murdered in the New York World Trade Centre by bin Laden's terrorists. That is what caused passenger numbers to fall...

After the despicable French decision to end Concorde support caused Skippy to throw in the towel, all remaining ba Concorde seats rapidly sold out.

As Jeremy Clarkson said, after disembarking for the last time "That's one small step for me, one giant leap backwards for mankind".

RIP Concorde - the only good thing about ba......:(

4th Jul 2013, 13:21
Sorry, but I'm in shock at how an article on the BBC website is not available to be read in the UK ! Its the BBC homepage, says nothing about it being 'international', but thanks Noyade for copy-pasting it.

Shaggy Sheep Driver
4th Jul 2013, 13:56
Yes, thanks for that.

The dream lives on - come and see G-BOAC at Manchester! She is still the icon she was, and in her silent retirement still attracts as many visitors as she always has.


4th Jul 2013, 14:09
One of greatest privileges and exciting experiences in my life was to be involved in production controlling "assemblies" for 2 Concorde nose & visor sets designed and built by Marshall of Cambridge - now Marshall Aerospace. The first time I saw the nose and visor moving in the test rig was amazing.

4th Jul 2013, 19:45
Lovely aircraft - complete waste of money.

4th Jul 2013, 21:49

Thanks for your help. A moving piece of script, even if some of the detail might be called into question.

Concorde was a truly remarkable aircraft and a magnificent achievement; our industry at the height of its potency. In my humble opinion, dismissing it as a "complete waste of money" suggests an awareness of "the price of everything, and the value of nothing". I think most of us here may share a similar view on that particular gambit.

5th Jul 2013, 06:14
The Concorde story starts with a feasability study in 1956. The first flight was 1969 - a fraction over 44 years ago.

Yet if the same shape armed with fly-by-wire and a glass cockpit, took off for the very first time tomorrow, people would look on in awe, and proclaim it as leading edge technology.

Concordes place in aviation history is cast in stone, and quite rightly so.

5th Jul 2013, 06:23
This is one of my favourites from long long ago (in a galaxy far far away), the Noel Edmonds Concorde special shown on BBC. Its shown in parts here, and you have to click on pt2, pt3 etc to watch the whole thing.

Concorde From The Cockpit - Part One - YouTube

5th Jul 2013, 06:43
I have this other Concorde dvd 'Concorde around the World' , I think its the final around the world tour, very nice. I was thinking of uploading it for everyone to enjoy , then discovered someone had already done so, in parts again, so here it is.

Concorde around the World - Part 1 - YouTube

Shaggy Sheep Driver
5th Jul 2013, 15:59
Yet if the same shape armed with fly-by-wire and a glass cockpit, took off for the very first time tomorrow, people would look on in awe, and proclaim it as leading edge technology.

It did have fly by wire - the first civil airliner to use it. The flight controls input to an electronic control system with stability aumentation, which in turn sent electrical signals to the valves on the hydraulic PFCUs (Powered Flying Control Units). As a backup, there are physical cables between the controls and the PFCU valves which can be brought into operation if the main system fails (AFAIK it never did).

Because it had FBW, Airbus fitted one (G-BOAC) with a sidestick temporarily while developing their systems for the Airbus airliners.

As for the shape... it's exactly right to do the job! A modern Concorde would have composite structures, glass cockpit, today's avionics and engines, but the shape (I'm told by a professor of aerodynamics) would be largly the same. But probably bigger!

5th Jul 2013, 17:56
"In my humble opinion, dismissing it as a "complete waste of money" suggests an awareness of "the price of everything, and the value of nothing"."

So what did we get of value for our money?

Shaggy Sheep Driver
5th Jul 2013, 20:01
So what did we get of value for our money?

If you have to ask, I can't explain.

I was lucky to fly on her, but even if I hadn't I would not begrudge one penny of my dad's tax bill that went towards creating such a fabulous icon. The Russians tried and failed, as did the US. We got a beautiful white bird that made hours at mach 2 in shirt sleeve comfort on the edge of space a daily occurance for nearly 3 decades.

Like putting a man on the Moon and bringing him back safely, it's stuff we don't do these days. Vision? Adventure? Nah; the grey bean counters rule now.

Yesterday I was showing a BA 777 captain, and ex-Concorde FO round the beautiful bird and he recalled his first ever Concorde circuit at Shannon when base training. He got it turned downwind at 1,500 feet after the amazing light-weight take off (more like a Saturn V launch than an airliner take off) for a touch and go, when the trainee engineer behind him who was on the same course hit him on the shoulder and shouted "F****ING HELL, JAMES! JUST F****ING BLOODY HELL!"

6th Jul 2013, 19:43
ATC last flight of Concorde from JFK :)

Last concorde communication with JFK.wmv - YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=aIjwWvBA1GY)

A nice listen :)