The British Concorde fleet in one picture, 1986

First flown in 1969, the Concorde entered service in 1976 and continued commercially for 27 years. With a cruising speed of 1,350 mph (2,180 km/h at cruise altitude), its unmistakable roar, and flashy, sexy lines became a symbol of Concorde aviation history.

For people wealthy enough to afford expensive round-trip tickets, a trip on a Concorde was the closest to flying on a rocket.

The Concorde was developed and manufactured jointly by Aérospatiale and the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) under an Anglo-French treaty.

The name Concorde, meaning harmony or union, refers to a collaboration between the United Kingdom and France on the project. Twenty aircraft were built, including six prototypes and development aircraft. Air France (AF) and British Airways (BA) each received seven aircraft.

The Concorde faced problems beyond high cost. Any aircraft traveling faster than the speed of sound is called a "sonic boom".

To avoid this problem, the Concorde was limited to subsonic speeds when flying on the ground. This meant that it could exercise its major advantage over other aircraft when traveling on trans-oceanic routes.

On 10 April 2003, Air France and British Airways announced together that they would be retiring Concorde at the end of that year. They cited low passenger numbers after the 25 July 2000 accident, reduced air travel after the 11 September attacks, and rising maintenance costs.

Although the Concorde was technologically advanced in the 1970s, 30 years later, its analog cockpit was out of date. There was little commercial pressure to upgrade the Concorde due to the lack of competing aircraft, unlike other airliners of the same era, such as the Boeing 747.

Until its retirement, it was the last aircraft in the British Airways fleet to have a flight engineer; Other aircraft, such as the modern 747-400, had ceased the role.

Due to the intense heat of the airframe, the Concorde can protrude anywhere from six to 10 inches (15 to 25 cm) during flight. By the end of the flight every surface, even the windows, was hot to the touch.

The Concorde still holds the record for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic by a civilian aircraft. On February 7, 1996, the fastest Concorde flight from New York to London took just two hours, 52 minutes and 59 seconds.

Developed by Marshall Aerospace, the Concorde's inclined nose enabled the aircraft to switch between being streamlined to reduce drag and achieving optimum aerodynamic efficiency, and obstructing the pilot's view during taxi, take-off and landing operations. did not do.

Due to the high angle of attack, the long pointed nose obstructed the view and necessitated bending capability. There was a moving visor with a sloping nose that retracted into the nose before being lowered. When the nose was raised to the horizontal, the front visor of the cockpit windscreen was raised to streamline the aerodynamics.

The only supersonic airliner in direct competition with Concorde was the Soviet Tupolev Tu-144, nicknamed "Concordsky" by Western European journalists for its outward resemblance to Concorde.

It was alleged that the Concorde blueprints were stolen as a result of Soviet espionage efforts, apparently to aid in the design of the Tu-144. As a result of the rapid development programme, the first Tu-144 prototypes were significantly different from the preproduction machines, but both were cruder than the Concorde.

The Tu-144S had a significantly shorter range than the Concorde, due to its low bypass turbofan engine. The aircraft had poor control at low speeds due to a simple supersonic wing design; In addition, the Tu-144 required a braking parachute for landing while the Concorde used anti-lock brakes. The Tu-144 had two crashes, one at the 1973 Paris Air Show, and the other during a pre-delivery test flight in May 1978.

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