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History of Concorde

A total of twenty Concorde aircraft were built at Toulouse in France and Filton in England. There were two prototypes (001-002), two pre-production aircraft (01-02) and sixteen production aircraft (201-216). The first two were retained by the manufacturers, seven were delivered to British Airways and seven to Air France. The first flight of Concorde (001) was on 2nd March 1969. The last flight was on 26th November 2003.

Concorde flew at Mach 2.02-2.04 (approx. 1350mph) and carried 100 passengers to the edge of space at a cruising altitude of 55,000 feet (16765m). On the ground Concorde was 203 feet 9 inches long but stretched by almost 10 inches in flight due to heating of the airframe. The famous swing-nose reached 127 Celsius - a stark contrast to the outside temperature of a subsonic aircraft of -50 Celsius. This high skin temperature also accounted for the excellent condition of the plane because the corrosion effects of moisture in the air were significantly reduced.

The inauguration of commercial supersonic travel by British Airways from London to Bahrain and by Air France from Paris to Rio was on 21st January 1976. Concorde made many firsts and broke numerous records such as the New York to London record which was broken on 7th February 1996 by Captain Leslie Scott in a time of 2 hours 52 minutes 59 seconds.

Key Milestones 1950s

1956 - Start of supersonic airline research in Europe

Key Milestones 1960s

1960 - British Airways accepted its first supersonic passenger reservation

1961/2 - Preliminary British/French discussions

29th November 1962 - British and French governments sign agreement covering joint design, development and manufacture of SST

1962 - British Aerospace (Britain) and Aerospatiale (France) partnership

11th December 1967 - Roll-out of first prototype at Toulouse

2nd March 1969 - First flight of Concorde 001 from Toulouse to New York City (it took 3 hours 18 minutes)

9th April 1969 - First flight of Concorde 002 from Filton, Bristol

1st October 1969 - Concorde's first supersonic flight

Key Milestones 1970s

4th November 1970 - Mach 2 exceeded for first time by Concorde 001

13th May 1971 - Concorde makes first automatic landing

25th May 1971 - Concorde 001 flies 2,800 statute miles on first overseas flight to Dakar, Senegal in 2 hours 35 minutes (1/2 subsonic time)

17th December 1971 - First pre-production Concorde 02 flies from Filton

June 1972 - Concorde 02 visits Australia, the Middle East and Far East

1972 - Twenty Concordes have been built and fourteen made available for sale

28th July 1972 - British Airways (BOAC) orders five Concordes

10th January 1973 - First airline style Concorde (01) and fourth to fly makes maiden flight from Toulouse

30th June 1973 - Concorde 01 paces total eclipse of sun across Africa giving scientists their first sustained view of the sun's corona

20th September 1973 - Concorde 02 lands at Dallas/Fort Worth for the first flight to The United States

February 1974 - Concorde flies from Filton in British Airways colours

17th June 1974 - First double Atlantic crossing in one day

5th December 1975 - UK Civil Aviation Authority awards Certificate of Air-worthiness

1976 - Tickets cost £431

1976 - Manchester coiffeur Pierre Alexandre created the £13 Concorde hair-do - permed, soft and pointed

21st January 1976 - Inauguration of commercial supersonic travel by British Airways from London to Bahrain and by Air France from Paris to Rio

24th May 1976 - London to Washington service starts

22nd November 1977 - Inauguration of British Airways London to New York service

Key Milestones 1980s

8th November 1986 - First around the world flight by British Airways Concorde covering 28.238 miles in 29 hours 59 minutes

1989 - Ticket cost per mile was cheaper than the London Underground Waterloo/City Line (£16.55 per mile)

12th April 1989 - Concorde G-BOAF (216) lost a section of rudder on a flight from Christchurch, New Zealand to Sydney, Australia

Key Milestones 1990s

2nd March 1990 - Concorde is 21 years old today (first flight of Concorde 001 from Toulouse to New York City on 2nd March 1969)

14th April 1990 - Captain Norman Britton takes New York to London record in 2 hours 54 minutes 30 seconds

1st June 1990 - Concorde Honolulu to Hong Kong in 6 hours 30 minutes (subsonic time 13 hours 10 minutes)

6th June 1990 - Celebration of 50th anniversary of Battle of Britain, Captain Jock Lowe flies Concorde in formation with Spitfire over The White Cliffs of Dover

7th September 1990 - Concorde model installed at Heathrow's main entrance roundabout

14th September 1990 - Concorde appeared at the Farnborough Air Show

30th November 1990 - The British Airways twice weekly Concorde service to Barbados restarted

January 1991 - A second British Airways Concorde rudder failed

11th January 1991 - The Concorde service from Washington to Miami to be discontinued from 31st March 1991

21st January 1991 - Concorde has been in service for 15 years

14th May 1991 - Concorde flew HM Queen Elizabeth II and HRH Prince Philip to Washington for the start of an official tour of USA. Captained by British Airways Captain Lowe

7th June 1991 - A new computerised Concorde flight-planning system was introduced

12th July 1991 - Concorde 101 repainted

26th July 1991 - Concorde attended the opening of Birmingham's new Airport Terminal

21st January 1992 - Concorde in service for 16 years

March 1992 - Announcement that Concorde to make a visit to Nigeria and South Africa

21st March 1992 - A British Airways Concorde nearing New York suffered a third rudder failure.

15th May 1992 - British Airways announced it was to replace the upper and lower rudders on all seven aircraft following the third rudder failure in March.

October 1992 - Goodwood Travel chartered an Air France Concorde for a record supersonic circumnavigation time of 33 hours 1 minute

11th November 1992 - RAF team pulls Concorde 440 yards for Children In Need

18th December 1992 - British Airways extends Barbados Winter Concorde service to Mexico from the end of March 1993

26th March 1993 - British Airways Senior First Officer, Barbara Harmer became Concorde's 1st female pilot.

21st May 1993 - Concorde G-BOAF became the first of seven aircraft to have a £1m internal and external refurbishment

2nd July 1993 - Concorde Captain D C Rowland became British Airways Concorde business manager

27th August 1993 - Concorde was 'human towed' to raise money for Dreamflight (a British Airways charity)

10th October 1993 - Special Concorde flight to Jeddah

12th November 1993 - British Airways Captain C Morris flew Concorde to Athens to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Greek association

19th November 1993 - Concorde G-BOAA (206) receives the new £1m upper rudder

3rd December 1993 - Concorde took part in the 'fastest show on earth' when Concorde flew around the Bay of Biscay with the Bee Gees for Children In Need

7th January 1994 - New cabin crew uniform introduced on Concorde flight BA001 from London to New York

2nd March 1994 - 25th anniversary of Concorde 001 (F-WTSS) first flight from Toulouse celebrated

August 1994 - Cracks in the rear spar web structure of Concorde's wing were found. The cracks turned out to be non-primary and were easily repaired. Three outer windowpanes shattered at 57,000 feet and travelling at Mach 2, there was no loss of pressurisation in the cabin as the inner ply holds held firm. Replacement windows on Concorde were now to be double ply

October 1994 - The British Airways Concorde service to Washington was discontinued. An extra British Airways Concorde was based in New York to serve the growing US Concorde charter market. Richard Branson announced the possibilities of his company, Virgin Atlantic leasing Air France Concorde's and crew. Concorde's exhaust was analysed in flight near New Zealand

29th May 1995 - British Concorde designer, Sir Archibald Russell CBE FRS, died at the age of 90

15th August 1995 - Air France Concorde leaves New York for a world record circumnavigation flight

September 1995 - The Olympus 593 engine clocks up 500k hours of supersonic flight time

25th September 1995 - Concorde carries the European Ryder Cup team and their trophy home

October 1995 - UK and French airworthiness authorities announce they will decide in 1996 what modifications are necessary for Concorde to extend its life up to 8,500 Reference Flights

January 1996 - The collision avoidance radar system (essential for flights over the USA) fitted to Concorde overcoming the problems of the aerial overheating at supersonic speeds

February 1996 - Due to the excellent state of Concorde's airframe, the UK and French airworthiness authorities ruled that, no modifications and only six changes to the Concorde maintenance schedule were required for the Life Extension Programme

7th February 1996 - British Airways Concorde Captain Leslie Scott sets the New York to London record with a time of 2 hours 52 minutes 59 seconds

2nd April 1996 - Air France Concorde F-BTSD (213) painted blue and unveiled at Gatwick Airport to advertise Pepsi-Cola's new can

2nd June 1996 - Concorde in formation with the Red Arrows perform a fly past for the 50th anniversary of Heathrow Airport

8th August 1996 - Sir Frank Whittle, the inventor of the jet engine dies at the age of 89

1997 - British Airways repaints its Concorde fleet in the new corporate identity. Concorde is given the historic Chatham dockyard livery

21st January 1996 - Concorde in service for 21 years

24th May 1998 - British Airways Concorde G-BOAC suffers a separation of the No.3 Left Elevon. It was an original part and suffered a similar failure to the rudder sections

8th October 1998 - British Airways Concorde G-BOAC suffers a failure of the lower rudder wedge on a flight to New York. It was a new part fitted only four years earlier to all seven aircraft

1st July 1998 - British Airways sends Concorde G-BOAB (208) to Nantes, France to fly home the England World Cup 98 team. The flight uses the callsign 'Concorde 5 3 Charlie' and landed at Heathrow Airport at 16:54 hrs.

May 1999 - British Airways unveil a new internal design for the fleet designed by Terrence Conran

December 1999 - G-BOAG is the last Concorde to be painted in the new livery

Key Milestones 2000s

23rd July 2000 - British Airways tempoarily Grounds G-BOAE due to cracks discovered in non-critical areas of the wings

25th July 2000 - Air France Concorde F-BTSC crashes in Paris, due to engine failure after a tyre burst, with the loss of 109 people onboard and four on the ground

26th July 2000 - British Airways restart Concorde flights after the previous day's accident

15th August 2000 - British Airways withdraw Concorde services after hearing that the Certificate of Airworthiness is to be withdrawn on the following day. G-BOAC was on the runway at Heathrow for take off to New York when the UK Civil Aviation Authority told British Airways. G-BOAC was ordered to return to the stand and Concorde services were suspended

16th August 2000 - CAA and DGAC offically withdraw Concorde's Certificate of Airworthiness

31st August 2000 - French investigators (BEA) publish their first report into the Paris crash suggesting a burst tyre was at the heart of the accident

7th September 2000 - An Anglo-French working group meets for first time to look at ways of returning Concorde to service

21st September 2000 - Air France fly home Concorde F-BVFC from New York. It has been in storage since Air France grounded their fleet after the Paris crash

12th December 2000 - French investigators (BEA) publish their second report into the Paris crash confirming a burst tyre caused a fuel tank to rupture from the inside outwards when it was hit by debris. The tyre was possibly punctured by a titanium strip that had fallen from a Continental Airlines DC10 after a bad repair to an engine

15th December 2000 - Anglo-French working group give go-ahead for modifications to start to return Concorde to service

January 2001 - British Airways begin modifications on Concorde G-BOAF that they hope will enable them to return the aircraft to service. These include fitting of kevlar-rubber liners to the fuel tanks

26th January 2001 - Air France fly Concorde F-BVFB to Istres in the South of France to run tests to help understand the accident

3rd February 2001 - Air France Concorde F-BVFB flies back to Paris on completion of tests

11th April 2001 - Air France fly Concorde F-BTSD on a test flight in and out of Charles De Gaulle

17th April 2001 - F-BTSD is flown to Istres for tests on newly developed Michelin tyres that offer greater strength if they hit something sharp on the runway

5th May 2001 - F-BTSD returns to Orly airport to visit the paint shop after the completion of the tyre tests

30th May 2001 - F-BTSD flies back to its base at Charles De Gaulle after being given a fresh coat of paint

7th June 2001 - Michelin announce that the tyres that were tested at Istres will be fitted to Concorde when it returns to service

19th June 2001 - British Airways complete modifications of Concorde G-BOAF

20th June 2001 - G-BOAE moves into the main Concorde hanger at Heathrow to start its modification programme

4th July 2001 - G-BOAF Performs a taxi test around Heathrow in preparation for a verification flight

17th July 2001 - Captain Mike Bannister takes British Airways Concorde G-BOAF out for its first supersonic verification flight. It is fitted with new tyres, fuel tank liners and additional electrical shielding. The flight takes 3 hours 20 minutes and lands safely at RAF Brize Norton. The modifications do not reveal any unexpected side effects

20th July 2001 - G-BOAF has a supersonic verification flight from RAF Brize Notron to Heathrow. The results of this flight pave the way for the airlines to re-apply for Concorde's Certificate of Airworthiness

23th July 2001 - BEA publish a report confirming their findings on the Paris crash. It states that they understand most of the aspects of the accident. The working group meets on the same day and says that they will submit to the authorities their case for re-instatement of the Certificate of Airworthiness on 15th August 2001

25th July 2001 - Memorial services are held in Paris and the Gonesse crash site to mark the first anniversary of the accident. Many relatives of those killed along with Air France staff and locals attend

16th August 2001 - Concorde's manufacturers submit information to Aviation authorites in UK and France to apply for re-certification of aircraft that have been through the modification programme

24th August 2001 - Air France fly their first modified Concorde F-BVFB on a supersonic verification flight. It reaches a top speed of just over Mach 1.0

27th August 2001 - Air France fly Concorde F-BVFB on a supersonic verification flight where it reaches Concorde's normal cruising speed of around Mach 2.0 during the three and an half hour flight

5th September 2001 - Certificate of Airworthiness is returned to modified Concordes by the British CAA and French DGAC. When the set of airworthiness directives are carried out it will lead to the certificates of airworthiness being returned individually to the 12 remaining Concordes

11th September 2001 - Concorde 216 (G-BOAF) completes first Operational Assessment flight and is the first Concorde aircraft to carry passengers since being given back its Certificate of Airworthiness

28th September 2001 - Concorde 212 (G-BOAE) completes a 3 hour supersonic verification flight after the competion of its modification programme

5th October 2001 - Concorde 216 (G-BOAF) completes second Operational Assessment flight. The round trip flight was a 3 hour 30 minute trip from Heathrow to the Bay of Biscay

16th October 2001 - Concorde tickets go on sale after is is announced that services will restart on 7th November 2001. Ticket sales go very well with some flights sold out in a matter of days

15th October 2001 - Concorde 207 (F-BVFB) completes first, mainly subsonic, verification flight from Paris after the modification work is completed. A few days later the aircraft flies at Mach 2.0 during a second flight

19th October 2001 - Concorde 214 (G-BOAG) is the third British Airways Concorde to fly after the completion of her modifications

22nd October 2001 - British Airways Concorde G-BOAF completes final operational assessment flight to New York and back. It is the first flight to New York since the British and French fleets were grounded after the accident in Paris in 2000 and paves the way for the resumption of full passenger services.

29nd October 2001 - Air France Concorde F-BVFB completes an operational assessment flight to New York and back. This is the first Air France flight to depart for New York following the accident the previous year

7th Nov 2001 - Air France and British Airways restart Concorde services to New York. Air France Concorde F-BTSD, as Flight AF002, departs Paris Charles De Gaulle at 10:30 local time arriving at New York at 8:20EST. British Airways Concorde G-BOAE departs Heathrow Terminal 4, as BA001, at 10:30 local time and it arrives in New York at 9:10EST. Later the same day Prime Minister Tony Blair flies to Washington DC onboard Concorde G-BOAF to meet President George W Bush

1st December 2001 - British Airways restart the Saturday only BA273/4 services to Barbados. These services have become a regular part of the winter timetable since they were introduced in 1987. Concorde G-BOAF flies the re-launch service

19st December 2001 - The British Airways offer of Concorde return tickets for £2002, to celebrate the New Year 2002, sell out in 3 minutes

12th January 2002 - The French accident investigators (BEA) publish their final report into the July 2000 accident. The investigators concluded that a tyre burst on Concorde F-BTSC after running over the debris on the runway. The explosion sent rubber pieces hurtling toward fuel tanks causing a fuel leak and fire that brought the plane down. Several criticisms were made of shortcomings at Air France and in their operating procedures

29th January 2002 - Concorde 210 (G-BOAD) completes a 3 hour supersonic verification flight after the competion of its modification programme

10th February 2002 - British Airways Concorde G-BOAD flies the BA001 service from Heathrow to New York

1st April 2002 - British Airways (now with 4 serviceable aircraft) decide to overnight an aircraft in New York to allow an earlier and more popular departure time for the BA002. The BA002 now arrives in London at 17:25 rather than 21:00

13th April 2002 - After a successful summer re-launch season, the Saturday Barbados flights come to an end. The final BA273/2 flight for the season was flown by Concorde G-BOAG

20th April 2002 - British Airways restart the Saturday BA001/2 services between London and New York

May 2002 - Air France F-BVFF is the thirteenth and last of the production Concordes to go through a Major Check. F-BVFD did not go through the check as it was retired afer only flying 5,821 hours

4th June 2002 - British Airways Concorde G-BOAD flies in formation with the RAF Red Arrows to celebrate the Queen's Golden Jubilee

11th July 2002 - British Airways Concorde G-BOAC is the fifth Concorde to be modified and gets back in the air after 23 months on the ground

23th July 2002 - G-BOAC files the BA001/2 return service to New York marking its return to passenger service

25th August 2002 - Duxford celebrates the 25th anniversary of the arrival of Concorde G-AXDN with a special anniversary reunion where people who had been involved in the aircraft over its life span both as a development aircraft and as a museum piece could come together. Many of the flight test crews were present

22nd November 2002 - British Airways and Air France quietly celebrate the 25th anniversary of the start of services to New York by Concorde

27th November 2002 - On a flight to New York British Airways Concorde G-BOAE suffers the airlines fifth rudder failure. Again one of the new lower rudders that were put on the fleet in the early 90s failed. Many suspect a flaw in the new design as the rudder had been check only a few flights before

18th February 2003 - Air France Concorde F-BTSD diverts to Halifax, Nova Scotia. A fuel leak in the No.3 engine causes it to be shut down, with the captain subsequently declaring an emergency and diverting to Halifax. The aircraft reportedly lands with only the minimum level of fuel remaining

25th February 2003 - An Air France Concorde suffers its first rudder delamination. FAA inspectors find a 50cm part of the lower rudder's bottom wedge and a 130cm piece of the lower rudder's upper wedge missing on F-BVFA. The hours on this rudder matched the same time frame when British Airways started to experience failures in the late 1980s

2nd March 2003 - Sir George Edward Dies, Aged 94. Sir George was a key player in the Concorde project and was the first person who was not a member of the flight test crews to fly on Concorde in 1969, wearing a parachute

10th April 2003 - British Airways and Air France make a simultaneous announcement that Concorde will make its last flight scheduled passenger flight at the end of October ending nearly 30 years of supersonic travel. British Airways said that its decision had been made for commercial reasons with passenger revenue falling steadily against a backdrop of rising maintenance costs for the aircraft. Air France later say they will stop services on 31st May.

11th April 2003 - Virgin Atlantic founder Richard Branson announces his airline is interested in buying all seven British Airways Concordes for just £1 per aircraft. Branson said he wanted the full operational figures for the fleet, to see if using their marketing skills and lower cost base could keep the aircraft airborne at a profit

31st May 2003 - Air France conclude Concorde passenger services with a the AF001 flight form New York (F-BTSD), and a round the Bay of Biscay Charter (F-BVFB)

12th June 2003 - Concorde F-BVFA (205) makes its final flight to the Smithsonian Air and Space museum at Washington Dulles airport

14th June 2003 - Air France Concorde F-BTSD (213) retires at the Air and Space museum at Le Bourget

24th June 2003 - Concorde F-BVFB (207) lands at Karlsruhe-Baden–Baden Airpark, in South West Germany, on its way to the Sinsheim Auto & Technik Museum

27th June 2003 - Air France conclude Concorde operations when F-BVFC (209) retires at the Airbus plant in Toulouse, where the French aircraft were constructed

21st July 2003 - After a two day journey by river barge and road, through south west Germany, Air France Concorde F-BVFB reaches its final resting place at the Sinsheim Auto & Technik Museum

26th July 2003 - British Airways Concorde G-BOAD kicks off the final ever summer Barbados season. On returning to Heathrow the aircraft crew issue a PAN and then a mayday after running low on fuel due to a go-around and bad weather

30th August 2003 - G-BOAC, piloted by Captain Les Brodie, leaves Barbados on the last scheduled supersonic service from the Carribean. It was the first Concorde to visit the island in 1977 when it picked up the Queen at the end of her Jubilee tour

 

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