The Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde is a turbojet-powered supersonic passenger airliner, a supersonic transport (SST). It was a product of an Anglo-French government treaty, combining the manufacturing efforts of Aérospatiale and the British Aircraft Corporation. First flown in 1969, Concorde entered service in 1976 and continued commercial flights for 27 years.
Among other destinations, Concorde flew regular transatlantic flights from London Heathrow (British Airways) and Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (Air France) to New York JFK and Washington Dulles, profitably flying these routes at record speeds, in less than half the time of other airliners.
With only 20 aircraft built, their development represented a substantial economic loss, in addition to which Air France and British Airways were subsidised by their governments to buy them. As a result of the type’s only crash on 25 July 2000 and other factors, its retirement flight was on 26 November 2003.
Concorde's name reflects the development agreement between Britain and France. In Britain, any or all of the type—unusual for an aircraft—are known simply as 'Concorde'. The aircraft is regarded by many as an aviation icon
Air FranceAir France made its final commercial Concorde landing in the United States in New York City from Paris on 30 May 2003. During the following week, on 2 June and 3 June 2003, F-BTSD flew a final round-trip from Paris to New York and back for airline staff and long-time employees in the airline's Concorde operations. Air France's final Concorde flight took place on 27 June 2003 when F-BVFC retired to Toulouse.
Air France Concorde at Paris-Charles de Gaulle AirportAn auction of Concorde parts and memorabilia for Air France was held at Christie's in Paris on 15 November 2003; thirteen hundred people attended, and several lots exceeded their predicted values.
French Concorde F-BVFC was retired to Toulouse and kept functional after the end of service, including engine runs, for a short while, in case taxi runs were required in support of the French judicial enquiry into the 2000 crash.The aircraft is now fully retired and no longer functional.
French Concorde F-BTSD has been retired to the 'Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace' at Le Bourget (near Paris) and, unlike the other museum Concordes, a few of the systems are being kept functional, so that, for instance, the famous 'droop nose' can still be lowered and raised. This led to rumours that they could be prepared for future flights for special occasions.[French Concorde F-BVFB currently rests at the Auto & Technik Museum Sinsheim at Sinsheim, Germany, after its last flight from Paris to Baden-Baden, followed by a spectacular transport to Sinsheim via barge and road. The museum also has a Tu-144 on display – this is the only place where both supersonic airliners can be seen together.
British Airways conducted a North American farewell tour in October 2003. G-BOAG visited Toronto Pearson International Airport on 1 October 2003, after which it flew to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport as part of the tour. G-BOAD visited Boston’s Logan International Airport on 8 October 2003, and G-BOAG visited Washington Dulles International Airport on 14 October 2003.Misleading claims were made that G-BOAD’s flight to Boston set a record for the fastest transatlantic flight from east to west, making the trip from London Heathrow in 3 hours, 5 minutes, 34 seconds.However the fastest transatlantic flight was from London Heathrow to New York JFK airport on 7 February 1996 which took 2 hours, 52 minutes, 59 seconds from takeoff to touchdown. This flight was also made by G-BOAD.
In a week of farewell flights around the United Kingdom, Concorde visited Birmingham on 20 October, Belfast on 21 October, Manchester on 22 October, Cardiff on 23 October and Edinburgh on 24 October. Each day the aircraft made a return flight out and back into Heathrow to the cities, often overflying them at low altitude.
Concorde G-BOAC at the Manchester International Airport Aviation Viewing Park (meanwhile a hall has been constructed to accommodate it)
Mike Bannister (left) in the cockpit of BA002On 22 October, Heathrow ATC arranged for the inbound flight BA9021C, a special from Manchester, and BA002 from New York to land simultaneously on the left and right runways respectively. On the evening of 23 October 2003, the Queen consented to the illumination of Windsor Castle as Concorde's last west-bound commercial flight departed London overhead, an honour normally reserved for major state events and visiting dignitaries.
British Airways retired its Concorde fleet on 24 October.G-BOAG left New York to a fanfare similar to that given for Air France’s F-BTSD, while two more made round trips, G-BOAF over the Bay of Biscay, carrying VIP guests including former Concorde pilots, and G-BOAE to Edinburgh. The three aircraft then circled over London, having received special permission to fly at low altitude, before landing in sequence at Heathrow. All three aircraft spent 45 minutes taxiing around the airport before disembarking the last supersonic fare-paying passengers. The captain of the New York to London flight was Mike Bannister. G-BOAE (212) took it retirement flight on 17 November 2003 from Heathrow to Grantley Airport on Barbados, where the plane can still be seen daily.
All of BA's Concorde fleet have been grounded, their airworthiness certificates withdrawn and drained of hydraulic fluid. Jock Lowe, ex-chief Concorde pilot and manager of the fleet estimated in 2004 that it would cost £10–15 million to make G-BOAF airworthy again.BA maintain ownership and have stated that they will not fly again as Airbus ended support of the aircraft in 2003.
On 1 December 2003, Bonhams held an auction of British Airways’ Concorde artefacts, including a nose cone, at Kensington Olympia in London.Proceeds of around £750,000 were raised, with the majority going to charity. In March 2007, BA announced they would not renew their contract for the prime advertising spot at the entrance to Heathrow Airport where, since 1990, a 40% scale model of Concorde was located. The Concorde model was removed and placed on display at the Brooklands Museum.