Co-pilot: “Le Bourget, Le Bourget, Le Bourget.”
Pilot: “Too late (unclear).”
Control tower: “Fire service leader, correction, the Concorde is returning to runway zero nine in the opposite direction.”
Pilot: “No time, no (unclear).”
Co-pilot: “Negative, we’re trying Le Bourget” (four switching sounds).
Co-pilot: “No (unclear).”
via Air France Flight 4590
Once upon a time we stepped back from technology. It seemed unhealthy. I wonder if we could do that again.
Reflecting the treaty between the French and British governments which led to Concorde’s construction, the name Concorde is from the French word concorde (IPA: [kɔ̃kɔʁd]), which has an English equivalent, concord. Both words mean agreement, harmony or union.
As its market shares were eroding on the soft drinks market, the US company Pepsi Cola undertook a major re-branding project of $500 million US which would be unveiled in 1996 after about two years of work. Pepsi therefore started to look around for a spectacular and efficient manner to advertise its new brand style and enhance its sales. It was eventually decided to have an advertisement operation involving the Concorde. (via)
Why did they not make the Concord better? Because it did not make any more money? Because the time saved with Mach 2 was marginal to commercial customers?
They did not improve the plane after the only crash. They let it die instead. It makes no sense.
Concorde made an tidy operating profit for the airlines, but with the aircraft approaching 30 years of age a large investment programme would be required to update many of the systems on board the aircraft. With the premium first class market as it is post September 11th 2001, there is no hope of the airlines being able to fund this investment and keep the aircraft in profit.
Therefore, the airlines decided to write off the current levels of investment in the aircraft, of around £100M, rather than risk having to write off sums that could top £200M in the coming years, if the premium travel market did not improve.
British Airways have stated that they intended to “Celebrate Concorde” in its final months, and attempt to give people through the UK a chance to fly on-board the aircraft, before they were retired to museums.
It is a sad time, but the inevitable really only came forward a few years. We should celebrate what Concorde was and still is – the only profit making Supersonic Passenger Jet to ever to go into regular revenue service. The Americans or Russians could not even do it – that’s how far ahead of its time it was … and still is!
So if technology is – for once – not profitable.. just fuck it?
British businessman and impresario Richard Branson offered to step in and take the whole fleet over for the price of 1 pound and promised to operate the planes for years into the future. He never got the chance. Skeptics believe that high level politics played a role in the demise of the Concorde, possibly from fears over the financial risk of lawsuits if there was another crash. (via)
The Americans are ahead. They say by 2015 they’ll have a proper alternative. Nothing will be as iconic as Concorde, though, will it?
Perhaps the most iconic design feature of the Concorde is its distinctive droop nose. Because delta wing aircraft have such a steep angle of attack, it can be difficult for the pilot to see over the nose. The nose is engineered to allow it to change position depending on the stage of flight. For taxiing and takeoffs, the nose was lowered 5 degrees. Once in the air, it was raised again. It was then lowered 12.5 degrees for landings. Once on the ground, the flight crew brought the nose back up to the 5 degree position to lessen the possibility of damage. (via)
Concorde was famously and some would say intentionally scuppered by jealous Americans who banned the plane from flying over U.S. territory at the speed of sound.
This immediately removed any advantage the small plane had over its larger competitors and ended the supersonic age before it had begun.
The Aerion aircraft can successfully fly at nearly the speed of sound without any significant noise impact and more amazingly has the ability to fly at mach 1.15 without emanating a sonic boom.(via)
It will come better and stronger, right?
‘Business and government leaders will be able to travel more in pursuit of opportunity. And they will feel a lot better when they step off the airplane.’