The Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde supersonic transport (SST) was the more successful of the only two supersonic passenger airliners to have ever operated commercially (the Tupolev Tu-144 being the other).
Its development was a product of an Anglo-French government treaty, only 20 aircraft were built. The costly development phase thus represented a substantial economic loss. Air France and British Airways were subsidized to buy the aircraft by their governments, while other sales were blocked by the 1973 oil crisis and competition from the Boeing 747. Nonetheless, Concorde made large operating profits for British Airways for much of its service life.
First flown in 1969, piloted by Andre Turcat, Concorde service commenced in 1976 and continued for 27 years. It flew regular transatlantic flights from London Heathrow (British Airways) and Paris Charles de Gaulle (Air France) to New York JFK and Washington Dulles, flying these routes at record speeds, in under half the time of other airliners. Concorde also set many other records, including the official F.A.I. "Westbound Around The World" and "Eastbound Around the World" world air speed records.
The fastest transatlantic flight was from London Heathrow to New York JFK on 7 February 1996 by British Airways' G-BOAD in 2 hours, 52 minutes, 59 seconds from takeoff to touchdown. Concorde also set other records, including the official FAI "Westbound Around the World" and "Eastbound Around the World" world air speed records. On 12–13 October 1992, in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ first New World landing, Concorde Spirit Tours (USA) chartered Air France Concorde F-BTSD and circumnavigated the world in 32 hours 49 minutes and 3 seconds, from Lisbon, Portugal, including six refuelling stops at Santo Domingo, Acapulco, Honolulu, Guam, Bangkok, and Bahrain.
The eastbound record was set by the same Air France Concorde (F-BTSD) under charter to Concorde Spirit Tours in the USA on 15–16 August 1995. This promotional flight circumnavigated the world from New York/JFK International Airport in 31 hours 27 minutes 49 seconds, including six refuelling stops at Toulouse, Dubai, Bangkok, Andersen AFB in Guam, Honolulu, and Acapulco. By its 30th flight anniversary on 2 March 1999 Concorde had clocked up 920,000 flight hours, with more than 600,000 supersonic, much more than all of the other supersonic aircraft put together in the Western world.
As a result of its only crash on July 25, 2000, world economic effects arising from the 9/11 attacks and other factors, operations ceased on 24 October 2003. The last "retirement" flight occurred on 26 November that year. Even in retirement, Concorde remains an icon of aviation history.
Concorde is an ogival (also "ogee") delta-winged aircraft with four Olympus engines based on those originally developed for the Avro Vulcan strategic bomber. Concorde was the first airliner to have an (in this case, analogue) fly-by-wire flight-control system; the avionics of Concorde were unique because it was the first commercial aircraft to employ hybrid circuits. The principal designer for the project was Pierre Satre, with Sir Archibald Russell as his deputy.
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