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View Full Version : Concorde & Sir Richard Branson.


Noah Zark.
28th Dec 2017, 22:08
Throughout the Xmas period, there have been a number of programmes on the telly about Concorde,from beginning to end of its life, its conception, development, etc. etc.
Some material in there that I hadn't heard before, so all in all, not bad. But I got to thinking.
Putting aside the side issues such as spares, if Branson had got hold of X number of Concordes as he was apparently trying to do when BA stopped using them, does the team think he could have made a success of it?
For the sake of an interesting debate, serious answers please, if at all possible.

Molemot
28th Dec 2017, 22:14
It would have needed a Maintenance Authority agreeable to the CAA. As far as I know, after BAe and Aerospatiale withdrew, that avenue became impossible; sad, but there you are.

SARF
28th Dec 2017, 22:23
No chance....

G0ULI
28th Dec 2017, 22:27
The joy rides around the Bay of Biscay proved quite profitable but a scheduled trans Atlantic service needs every seat filled to make a profit. Many regular customers died in the Twin Towers attack, so the business model suffered a severe setback.

While Branson has apparently embraced unique high tech aviation vehicles in his attempts to provide a passenger service to space, the idea is to eventually mass produce a standardised transportation system. I don't think Concorde would be a comfortable fit into Branson's typical business model. He would have run the fleet, scavaging parts to keep planes flying as long as possible until the fleet was reduced to scrap, making as much profit as possible along the way. Undoubtably, there would have been more accidents. Better to stop flying the aircraft when we did.

tdracer
29th Dec 2017, 03:20
The manufactures of Concorde (now basically Airbus) declared they would stop technical support when BA and AF decided to stop flying them (I'm guessing there was some old agreement that required the manufactures to continue to provide technical support - at no small cost - but it wasn't 'transferable' if the Concorde aircraft were sold).
It's very difficult to keep any aircraft airworthy and certified when the manufacturer discontinues their technical support (for whatever reason). With something as complex as Concorde, it would be nearly impossible.

Krystal n chips
29th Dec 2017, 04:37
Throughout the Xmas period, there have been a number of programmes on the telly about Concorde,from beginning to end of its life, its conception, development, etc. etc.
Some material in there that I hadn't heard before, so all in all, not bad. But I got to thinking.
Putting aside the side issues such as spares, if Branson had got hold of X number of Concordes as he was apparently trying to do when BA stopped using them, does the team think he could have made a success of it?
For the sake of an interesting debate, serious answers please, if at all possible.

Leaving aside the, ahem, minor details of airworthiness, relevant though they are, lets not forget that, when it comes down to generating publicity, notably for and about himself ( the brand simply follows ) the bearded one is no slouch.

Thus the " wish" to acquire Concorde was duly well publicised....to good effect.

ExXB
29th Dec 2017, 05:21
Many regular customers died in the Twin Towers attack, so the business model suffered a severe setback. Really?

Some, no doubt, but not that many.

2,996 including the terrorists and plane passengers.

KelvinD
29th Dec 2017, 05:23
In theory, Branson could have made a success of it as BA were doing quite well on a per flight basis. Of course, it wouldn't have lasted too long as Virgin began to face all the problems that would occur with any aircraft that was getting on for 30 years old.
Speaking of Branson, there was an item on BBC Radio 4 news yesterday morning, talking to the bloke who heads up the "Boom Supersonic" programme. He revealed (at least to me) that Virgin have options on taking 12 of these paper aeroplanes and JAL have options on 20. I may be an old cynic but listening to this bloke going on about how fast and cheap to fly on, I was thinking "Yeah. OK. Let's wait and see".
And last night, I saw a documentary on TV discussing why the Boeing 2707 was pulled by the US government. It ruins your faith though in these programmes when they end with an "expert" (aviation historian) telling us how the 747 came about "after the Vietnam war". Maybe a different Vietnam war to the one I remember!

cattletruck
29th Dec 2017, 05:31
I reckon Sir B should forego the massive challenges of Mach 2 and just build himself a full scale battery powered ducted fan styrofoam version of Concorde to putter around UK skies in.

It would be quieter too.

gruntie
29th Dec 2017, 06:55
It was quite amusing when he put Virgin stickers on the model Concorde at the Heathrow entrance, and had his picture taken in front of it while dressed as a pirate (I canít remember if a stuffed parrot was involved, now).
As to the real ones, he had two chances: fat chance, and no chance. Generated him excellent publicity though.

Laarbruch72
29th Dec 2017, 08:05
In theory, Branson could have made a success of it as BA were doing quite well on a per flight basis.

Except that, as with many Virgin brands, if you look under the veneer of the great publicity (which they've always done well), Virgin Atlantic have an unhappy habit of losing money hand over fist. In recent years they've had two concurrent financial years where losses were well in excess of 200 million, and when they do turn a profit it's (to put it kindly) modest. 9 million when I last looked, IIRC that was 2015-2016. And that took Delta's help to achieve.

It's one thing for BA to have eventually run Concord at a marginal profit, but another thing entirely to expect Virgin to achieve the same trick with no experience of the type. Let's face it, all along it was nothing more than another Virgin PR exercise.

ShotOne
29th Dec 2017, 08:11
+1 to that. There was never the remotest prospect of Branson being able to operate Concorde. What it does demonstrate is his great talent for picking up on then riding the popular (and belated!) wave of sentimental support for a tremendous piece of British engineering

Pace
29th Dec 2017, 09:23
Maybe with the advance in communication technology the need for high speed travel to get key personnel to meeting across the globe isn't quite a desperate as when Concorde came out?

Will there ever be another more economical and Modern Concorde ?
Concorde was from a different era more of the pioneering era of Concorde putting a man on the moon etc which no longer seems to exist

Effluent Man
29th Dec 2017, 09:25
Interesting program on last night about the Boeing 2707, a lot of which I didn't know before. It did highlight the drawbacks of the project, especially the seemingly insurmountable sonic boom problem.

atakacs
29th Dec 2017, 09:56
Interesting program on last night about the Boeing 2707, a lot of which I didn't know before. It did highlight the drawbacks of the project, especially the seemingly insurmountable sonic boom problem.

Do you have a link to some replay facility?

Supersonic transportation is really pushing the envelope. Very hard to archieve at an economically viable price point, even with 50 years in advancement in technology.

RAT 5
29th Dec 2017, 10:28
Remembering the project Hotol, and another semi-space vehicle, from years ago; I thought they had good ideas about what could be achieved and how, but the materials & thrust sources were not yet available. Would it not be better to put all energies into solving those issues rather than diluting resources into what could be a relatively temporary Mach 2 aircraft? UK - Aus in 3 hours was what was speculated. That makes Mach 2 seem pedestrian.

Buster15
29th Dec 2017, 10:34
It's one thing for BA to have eventually run Concord at a marginal profit, but another thing entirely to expect Virgin to achieve the same trick with no experience of the type. Let's face it, all along it was nothing more than another Virgin PR exercise.

It was more than a marginal profit for BA. Prior to the AF crash it was in the region of £30m plus per year and that was why they were so keen to get them returned to service.
Like most, it would probably have been difficult for RB to have operated Concorde due to the very specific arrangements that BA utilised including spares purchase as well as the arduous maintenance requiremens.
But....you never know...

Krystal n chips
29th Dec 2017, 10:39
Do you have a link to some replay facility?

Supersonic transportation is really pushing the envelope. Very hard to archieve at an economically viable price point, even with 50 years in advancement in technology.

This might work.....

https://tvcatchup.com/show/6d98446768b029a4f6ba05c31299bc6e/Planes+That+Never+Flew

The previous show was quite interesting as well, all about rocket powered aircraft and various combinations of power plants. Plus some interviews with Dick Stratton ( R.I.P )...now there was a gentleman who could be very engaging to listen and talk to ( unless you were the C.A.A ) ....:ok:

G0ULI
29th Dec 2017, 11:07
Given what we have learned more recently of the delicate nature of the high stratosphere and ozone layer, is it a good idea to have hundreds or thousands of flights a year being conducted through these regions? Rocket exhaust plumes disperse over huge areas producing clouds and atmospheric phenomena that can be viewed for a considerable time afterwards. As it is, aircraft contrails are contributing to the disruption of global weather patterns as evidenced by weather records before and after 9/11 when all air traffic was grounded across the US for several days.

meadowrun
29th Dec 2017, 11:21
contributing to the disruption of global weather patterns


Probably some substance in that except the global weather pattern is "chaos"


A butterfly exercising its wings on a leaf in the deep jungles of Borneo will have an effect on the weather in Westbury on Severn, not too long later.


Like time, there is no pattern unless observed from a very long way away.

Jet II
29th Dec 2017, 13:05
It was more than a marginal profit for BA. Prior to the AF crash it was in the region of £30m plus per year and that was why they were so keen to get them returned to service.


Hmm,, BA were known to have some very creative accounting when it came to Concorde. I remember one year the fuel bill for Concorde ended up coming out of Gatwick Shorthaul budget. :ok:

flash8
29th Dec 2017, 13:49
The beardy one was quite obviously milking it for all it was worth with no intention of doing anything, although he was very likely full aware that it was impossible anyhow.

I barely understood the situation then but it became apparent very quickly this was a publicity stunt.

As for the airline... speaking to a guy in a bar in Moscow who met Randolph Fields... lets just say the Branson myth soon dissipated after hearing that story.

goofer3
29th Dec 2017, 14:49
I took this in 2006 so there was at least one flying, if only at the LMA Rougham ;) Reg was G-WISH.

Effluent Man
29th Dec 2017, 15:30
Hmm,, BA were known to have some very creative accounting when it came to Concorde. I remember one year the fuel bill for Concorde ended up coming out of Gatwick Shorthaul budget. :ok:

Yes they seemed to approach the calculation of profit/loss while factoring out the astronomical costs of development and purchase . I tried with only limited success to explain to a man I knew that selling cars on commission from his site was a loss making activity. He insisted that because he got £200 from each sale it was a profit. Of course once he allocated a share of advertising, business rates etc to each it became a minus figure.

Molemot
29th Dec 2017, 16:35
SSTs in the atmosphere, generating the unavoidable sonic booms, have been and gone. Sub orbital transports, that fly just outside of the atmosphere and thus generate no sonic booms to start with, seem to me to be a much better proposition. The Sabre engine has received significant EU investment; what will happen to that after Brexit nobody can tell.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SABRE_(rocket_engine)
https://www.reactionengines.co.uk/

OyYou
29th Dec 2017, 16:48
“The beardy one was quite obviously milking it for all it was worth with no intention of doing anything, although he was very likely full aware that it was impossible anyhow.”

My understanding was that as soon as they were painted in Virgin Atlantic colours they would then be parked in museums for evermore.
Regards

Ancient Observer
29th Dec 2017, 16:54
No.
They were never going to fly again. BAe or whatever they were/are called, withdrew support. No chance of airworthiness certs.
It was simply Beardy going for publicity.

Also, the recent progs got one technical thing very wrong. The airframes had nearly reached the end of their usable/flying lives. Some clown said they could "fly for ever". Yes, er, right. Presumably he forgot to talk to the folk in the Belgrano.

Effluent Man
29th Dec 2017, 18:26
Latest in the series "Planes that never flew" ... The F-104.

Dr Jekyll
29th Dec 2017, 18:28
Yes they seemed to approach the calculation of profit/loss while factoring out the astronomical costs of development and purchase .

Development and purchase were sunk costs, so irrelevant to BA's calculation as to whether to continue flying.

ORAC
29th Dec 2017, 19:05
Yes they seemed to approach the calculation of profit/loss while factoring out the astronomical costs of development and purchase They didn’t pay them - they were, effectively, given them for free.

Effluent Man
29th Dec 2017, 20:09
I have seen a figure of £23million per plane. I don't know how many flights they made, but assuming a figure of 5,000 that would be £4,600 per flight.

tdracer
29th Dec 2017, 20:20
I have seen a figure of £23million per plane. I don't know how many flights they made, but assuming a figure of 5,000 that would be £4,600 per flight.
I believe that was the original contract price when the program was launched (huge money at the time - roughly twice what the original 747 sold for).
IIRC, both BA and AF actually paid a something like 1 pound/aircraft to 'buy' the aircraft - I think there was some technicality that said they had to pay something for the aircraft or there would have been a big tax hit for accepting several hundred millions worth of 'gifts'. If they'd had to pay the original contract price, there is little doubt they would have walked away since even then they knew it wasn't going to be a profitable aircraft.

Nigerian Expat Outlaw
29th Dec 2017, 20:44
As a past Virgin Gold Card holder and Upper Class (VA's compromise First/Business Class model) frequent flyer, I lost faith in Sir Richard's motives and ultimate ambition, which were touted by the glamour adverts etc. Most Virgin branded concerns are not owned by his company, although they keep the name due to negotiated branding rights and a small share after the overall transfer agreement. He's definitely an idea man and entrepeneur as the original concept originates with him. But they become "diluted" and cheapened for the sake of profit. Virgin Atlantic is one such example. I became so frustrated I switched to another airline.

His offer to "buy" Concorde for a quid was a publicity stunt; there was no way he could have operated the aircraft without the support BA/AF had.

NEO

MG23
29th Dec 2017, 21:30
Sub orbital transports, that fly just outside of the atmosphere and thus generate no sonic booms to start with, seem to me to be a much better proposition.

I rather liked Arthur C Clarke's comment on suborbital transports: 'half the time you can't reach the toilet, the other half you can't use it'.

There's not going to be a mass market any time soon for a means of transport that requires the passengers to survive 3g for half the flight and weightlessness for the other half, with a high chance of exploding or burning up at some point along the way. We're unlikely to do much better than a 99.9% not-exploding-or-burning-up rate with rockets for decades yet.

As for Skylon, last I looked they were estimating over $10,000,000,000 in development costs before it could make a penny in revenue. No-one's going to fund that any time soon, either.

flash8
30th Dec 2017, 01:44
He's definitely an idea man and entrepeneur as the original concept originates with him. But they become "diluted" and cheapened for the sake of profit. Virgin Atlantic is one such example.

The Virgin Airline "business" certainly didn't originate with him as without RF in the picture he'd still be flogging records.

glad rag
30th Dec 2017, 02:07
I rather liked Arthur C Clarke's comment on suborbital transports: 'half the time you can't reach the toilet, the other half you can't use it'.

There's not going to be a mass market any time soon for a means of transport that requires the passengers to survive 3g for half the flight and weightlessness for the other half, with a high chance of exploding or burning up at some point along the way. We're unlikely to do much better than a 99.9% not-exploding-or-burning-up rate with rockets for decades yet.

As for Skylon, last I looked they were estimating over $10,000,000,000 in development costs before it could make a penny in revenue. No-one's going to fund that any time soon, either.

https://hypebeast.com/2017/9/elon-musk-bfr-earth-travel

MG23
30th Dec 2017, 04:15
https://hypebeast.com/2017/9/elon-musk-bfr-earth-travel

Musk hasn't even achieved a 99% not-exploding-or-burning-up rate yet.

And when you consider that, even if his plan ever does fly, they're only going to be on a select few routes, the time taken to get to the launch site and then get from the landing site to where you want to go will almost certainly mean it takes longer for most people than jumping on a jet instead.

rog747
30th Dec 2017, 07:51
even Captain Rudolfo Bay of Spantax SA wanted a Concorde or two to charter for his scandinavia and UK to the Canary islands flights - said he could make it work !

Dr Jekyll
30th Dec 2017, 08:17
I believe that was the original contract price when the program was launched (huge money at the time - roughly twice what the original 747 sold for).
IIRC, both BA and AF actually paid a something like 1 pound/aircraft to 'buy' the aircraft - I think there was some technicality that said they had to pay something for the aircraft or there would have been a big tax hit for accepting several hundred millions worth of 'gifts'. If they'd had to pay the original contract price, there is little doubt they would have walked away since even then they knew it wasn't going to be a profitable aircraft.

As best I recall. BA (BOAC) paid £23 million each for the first five Concordes. The last two were originally leased from the govt in some complicated deal, then BA paid an undisclosed sum to buy out the govt interest, acquiring title to the aircraft, and a stock of spares. The aircraft were listed on the paperwork at a nominal £1 but the actual payment was for the whole package and obviously significant.