Why didn't Concorde become popular

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It was clear from the start that the Concorde would be an extraordinary aircraft. The technical achievements alone were and still are impressive: The Concorde was able to fly Mach 2.2, which is more than twice as fast as sound. The problem wasn't even getting that speed. Rather, the designers were troubled by the enormous frictional heat of the air flowing around the fuselage. New materials as well as new manufacturing and construction processes were therefore essential when building the Concorde.

However, the Concorde was not the first supersonic airliner. The Russian Tupolev TU-144 was able to book this chapter in aviation history for itself. America's aircraft manufacturers were just as advanced as their French / British and Russian counterparts in the late 1960s. With them, however, economic thinking prevailed - even if, as was the case in the industry, every landing of a Concorde in New York caused the Boeing designers a painful stitch in the heart area.

Starting difficulties

In the early 1970s, Aerospatiale / BAe already had 74 options for the Concorde. A total of 16 airlines planned to add the supersonic jet to their fleet, including Lufthansa.

But after the oil crisis of 1973, the aircraft could hardly be used economically due to the enormous kerosene consumption and all options were canceled again. Only Air France and British Airways ordered eight copies each under pressure from the governments. These 16 aircraft remained the only orders for Concorde until the end.

Right from the start, Concorde was a bone of contention between worldviews. For millions of people, the 62.10 meter long aircraft with its wingspan of only 25.55 meters and a top speed of 2405 kilometers per hour was pure fascinating technology. Millions dreamed of being able to fly a Concorde one day. Others saw the Concorde as a noisemaker and polluter. The fuel consumption on the Paris-New York route was 17 liters per 100 passenger kilometers. An Airbus A380, on the other hand, flies in the range of three liters of fuel per passenger per 100 kilometers. The Concorde was far too expensive for most airlines.

In the intoxication of the supersonic jet set

One of the many bold projects in the early years was the first scheduled flight between Paris and Rio de Janeiro on January 21, 1976; A little later, the Paris Caracas route was started with a technical stop in Santa Maria. However, both services ceased on April 1, 1982. The relatively short range of the Concorde (6250 kilometers) often played a role, which made time-consuming stopovers necessary on longer long journeys.

At the end of the 1970s, Concorde flew in cooperation with British Airways on the routes of two other airlines, namely Singapore Airlines (British Airways) and Braniff International (Air France). One machine even had Singapore Airlines livery on its port side.

Although the regular and successful liner service was limited in the end to the connections from Paris and London to New York and Washington, the Franco-British supersonic jets became increasingly popular. There was hardly a statesman of importance who did not take the chance to travel with a Concorde. Stars and starlets were permanent guests, especially the Formula 1 drivers and tennis stars. Margaret Thatcher felt just as comfortable on board as Queen Elizabeth or Pope John Paul II, who flew with the French Concorde F-BTSC on May 2, 1989 from La Réunion to Lusaka in Zambia.

The exuberance of euphoria also infected some communities. In 1985 the management of Hannover-Langenhagen Airport wrote to British Airways about the simulation games in the capital of Lower Saxony for an extension of the Concorde connection New York London to Hanover: “In our opinion, the airport for Hanover is best suited for this purpose in Northern Germany . "

Most passengers were simply thrilled to be able to get on after sunset in Europe and get off before sunset in New York. Or: Anyone who left Europe between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. arrived in New York in time for breakfast at 9 a.m. A flight from Europe to New York usually took around three and a half hours. Sometimes it went even faster. A flight time of less than three hours was achieved very rarely. That was 30 hours less than it took Charles Lindbergh to make his famous North Atlantic crossing in 1927.

Tragic end of an icon

The Concorde became a technical icon. It remains a legend despite the terrible crash on July 25, 2000 near Gonesse, not far from the Paris Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport, which killed 113 people, mostly Germans.

After this accident, all Concordes were grounded. The investigation revealed that parts of a tire that had burst during take-off likely damaged a tank and kerosene caught fire. Air France and British Airways undertook extensive tests and the resulting safety improvements to the tank and chassis. Among other things, Michelin even developed a new tire that breaks into many small pieces in the event of a burst.

However, the trust of the elite customers in the Concorde was permanently disrupted. In addition, the high oil prices made the use of the Concorde more and more unaffordable, so that first Air France and later also British Airways decided to discontinue flights with the Concorde.

On October 24, 2003, the major chapter of Concorde scheduled flights was closed. On the last flight of a British Airways Concorde to London, the "Thunderbird" was accompanied over the English Channel by an association of the British aerobatic team Red Arrows.

The last Concorde flight of all time took place on November 26th, 2003. British Airways transferred a machine from London Heathrow to the later location of the machine at the British Airbus plant in Filton. A fly-bye and landing at Filton Airfield was followed by over 20,000 visitors. British Airways had reserved the 100 seats on the farewell flight for employees. Before landing, the machine flew a loop over the North Atlantic and broke the sound barrier one last time.

Today the disused Concorde are distributed among renowned aviation museums around the world or they are the jewels of historical aviation sites. A Concorde is in the German Auto and Technology Museum in Sinsheim.

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