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Author Topic: Flight 4590 Didn't Kill the Concorde, Costs Did  (Read 964 times)

LostInBKK

  • Former member
Flight 4590 Didn't Kill the Concorde, Costs Did
« on: July 27, 2012, 02:00:40 PM »
It’s been 12 years now since Air France Flight 4590 took off from Charles De Gaulle for what proved to be its final flight. The Concorde ripped a hot chunk of rubber out of a tire (after running over some titanium debris left by a Continental DC-10 that took off before it), and flung it at itself. Spurting flames by the time it left the runway, there was little time to attempt a remedy — like landing at the nearby Le Bourget airport — before crashing into a hotel, taking the lives of all 109 passengers and crew, plus four on the ground. The passengers were mostly German tourists on their way to New York for a cruise.

But was the freak accident the only thing to bring the Concorde out of the sky? If the plane were around today — which some still fantasize about — it’d be like powering a stretch Hummer with dolphin blood. The airlines couldn’t sell enough tickets on the small plane to even make up for the amount of fuel it needed to guzzle on its journeys, let alone cover maintenance for the technological marvel. (A Concorde’s taxi to the end of a runway used as much fuel as a 737’s flight from London to Amsterdam.) Customers were fine with ordinary travel times for a fraction of the airfare and the plane only took transatlantic journeys, because going over land was too disturbing. Too much noise.

I have a friend who remembers flying the British Airways route to from New York to London. He recalled that it was a really noisy plane and the crew would hand out headphones circa WWII. (Has this really improved?) There were four channels of music, and you’d get a hard scone because it was British Airways food. The whole plane was business class, but the there was a front and back cabin (the important people sat in the front cabin). The plane didn’t take off at an alarming speed, because creating a sonic boom above the airport and surrounding area would p*** off the people down on the ground. Only when the jet got above the ocean did it open its throttle. He said this was probably the coolest part, and when it started to get really noisy. There was a meter in the cabin that told you what ‘mach’ you were ripping along at. Three-and-a-half hours later, you’d touch down in London.

For aviation enthusiasts and those who crave to fly at supersonic speeds, there might be hope. Developing an aircraft capable of creating smaller sonic booms and burning less gas is an ongoing pursuit of aeronautical designers. As for the Concorde, we’ll probably never see it fly again after it retired in November 2003. Still, if you’d like to see one on display, here’s a list of places you can hop aboard:

Aviation Viewing Park, Manchester Airport, UK
Smithsonian Museum’s Steven F Udvar-Hazy Center, Dulles Airport, Washington DC
Museum of Flight, East Fortune Airfield, Scotland
Auto & Technik Museum, Sinsheim, Germany
Airside at Heathrow, UK
USS Intrepid, New York City
Grantley Adams International Airport, Barbados
French Air and Space Museum at Le Bourget, Paris
Museum of Flight, Seattle
Filton Airfiled, Bristol, UK

brique

  • Former member
Re: Flight 4590 Didn't Kill the Concorde, Costs Did
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2012, 02:56:50 PM »
damn shame, she was a beautiful sight to see pass overhead : I was a mere schoolboy in Gloucestershire when they were doing the early test flights out of Filton : they would pass over as they lined up to blast down the Bristol Channel, and yes, they did set off a few booms on occasion, no doubt a bit eager on the throttle, no doubt p****ing off the local farmers and causing some wrist-slapping back at base : but to us boys, we wanted more and louder, please!

Yep, a major white elephant, a vanity project gone wild, but probably the last commercial aircraft built that will ever look like it was meant to go fast, rather than just carry half the population of a small town in one sitting in a manner pleasing to bean-counters alone.

side-note : I'm sure the IWM at Duxford, Cambridgeshire, (UK) has Concorde 101, (least-ways, last time I was in their main display hangar while it was being re-built a few years back it was there) and its still mentioned on their website..

http://www.iwm.org.uk/visits/iwm-duxford

It well worth a visit as Duxford isnt just a static museum, it is also a 'working' airfield with many privately-owned classics based there and in regular use : including a Spitfire trainer that is in regular use.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2012, 03:09:01 PM by brique »

Offline NorgeFly

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Re: Flight 4590 Didn't Kill the Concorde, Costs Did
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2012, 04:03:45 PM »
It's a fcascinating aircraft and such a shame that it's no longer in service. I see the one at Manchester everyday and never get bored of seeing it.

You mention that BA operated Concorde in all business class, however, it had a class of its own, Concorde Class and before service was suspended it was around £10,000 return (~$15,000). Their was a private Concorde lounge at LHR (and probably JFK) and the food on board was not a 'hard scone', it was specially prepared menu designed by top chefs.

It's also interesting to know that BA managed to make Concorde quite profitable (until the accident and grounding etc) and had a lot of regular top executive passengers. AF on the other hand publicly stated it was a loss maker from start to end, hence why they ceased flying earlier than BA. I guess the LHR-JFK market made it much easier for BA.

brique

  • Former member
Re: Flight 4590 Didn't Kill the Concorde, Costs Did
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2012, 04:13:19 PM »
I was told by a former BA staff that they made as much money running 'tourist excursions' on Concorde as on scheduled flights : take-off, blast across Biscay, hit supersonic for a while, then home again : BA always had more of them than they really needed, so would have been a good use of the fleet between scheduled services.

Offline swiftus27

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Re: Flight 4590 Didn't Kill the Concorde, Costs Did
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2012, 04:20:07 PM »
How was it that noisy?  I can understand subsonic but supersonic you'd be outrunning your engines sound.

Offline NorgeFly

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Re: Flight 4590 Didn't Kill the Concorde, Costs Did
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2012, 04:46:50 PM »
How was it that noisy?  I can understand subsonic but supersonic you'd be outrunning your engines sound.
.

Indeed, it was very noisy at take off and landing but in flight it would have been quiet.

brique

  • Former member
Re: Flight 4590 Didn't Kill the Concorde, Costs Did
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2012, 04:51:55 PM »
How was it that noisy?  I can understand subsonic but supersonic you'd be outrunning your engines sound.

You'd be out-running the external noise, yes, but not the internal noise transmitted through the airframe, that gets carried with you. Also, super-sonic flight created its own set of internal noises, add in the airframe actually stretching ( up to 10") due to the heat generated. Opinions seem to vary, the interior noise levels depended on where you sat and what phase of flight it was in : take-off when seated at the rear was worse, apparently, up front during super-sonic had a higher-pitched 'wind-type' noise.

I tend to think the offer of ear-muffs was more of an over-reaction in case anyone got mardy, after all, a lot of the negative vibe around Concorde prior to going into service was based on its noise levels, and no-one suggests that airlines offer eye-masks just because the cabin lighting is too bright, sometimes the passenger just prefers to zone-out undisturbed by the other passengers.

Offline Pilot Oatmeal

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Re: Flight 4590 Didn't Kill the Concorde, Costs Did
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2012, 05:10:40 PM »
I was on the second to last commercial scheduled flight of the Concorde G-BOAC JFK-LHR.  The one based at EGCC, which I visit very often.  I went with my dad and it was an experience of a life time (even tho I was quite a bit younger), the take off was incredible, but the cruise was just like any normal airliner.  The lounges were amazing as well on both sides, real first class experience :)

Offline ArcherII

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Re: Flight 4590 Didn't Kill the Concorde, Costs Did
« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2012, 05:32:11 PM »
When I was at Le Bourget back in 2003, I went into one of the two displayed at that time. I believe it was one of the prototypes as it was painted differently to the AF scheme.

Anyway I was amazed at how small it was. I mean, it's tall and long but not that much as resembled in pictorials and posters. And the cabin was small as well, I can think why.

But the joy was the cockpit, man all those switches, buttons, levers, steam gauges...wow. It was truly the biggest achievement in human aerial transportation, or just plain transportation. If you put it into perspective, you can see a two-crew astronaut-like eat-through-tubes pilots flying a Blackbird in very tight cubes, whereas a couple of thousand feet lower a hundred passengers on smokings and high-hills drinking champagne on glasses while talking at each other as if they where in a gulf court...   

Offline swiftus27

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Re: Flight 4590 Didn't Kill the Concorde, Costs Did
« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2012, 06:24:24 PM »
The service ceiling of the sr71 was significantly more than a couple thousand feet.  Plus travelling twice the speed (or faster) and covering the globe makes this a tad absurd of a comparison.

The rest of your statement is spot on

Offline ArcherII

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Re: Flight 4590 Didn't Kill the Concorde, Costs Did
« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2012, 06:31:02 PM »
It's not as absurd as you point out. Well, service ceiling was 25k higher, but it had to perform a good number of in-flight refuels so it needed to come down, even lower than Concord.

Offline TFC1

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Re: Flight 4590 Didn't Kill the Concorde, Costs Did
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2012, 03:59:26 PM »
The interesting thing about the Blackbird, was the fact that it leaked fuel when on the ground. Expansion joints took care of that. When the aircraft was airborne, sufficient heat was generated to close the leaks, and mid-air refueling was used to top up the tanks and allow it to get on with the job.

Although the official operating ceiling was 85k feet, I've heard stories of flights at 100k feet or higher for longer periods of time. A Blackbird pilot once said that "if anyone brings out something that beats one of our records, we'll just take the bird out again, move the throttle another notch forward, and the record will be ours again..."

Too bad the SR-71 is grounded, but I'm quite sure the USAF have something more spectacular, but secret, covering the same mission profile that the Blackbird did... :)

Offline SAC

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Re: Flight 4590 Didn't Kill the Concorde, Costs Did
« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2012, 09:20:17 PM »
For anyone wanting to view Concorde Manchester is a fantastic place to see it.  It probably has one of the best viewing parks in the world, with many static displays, incl Concorde, DC10 (Nose), Trident, BAe146 among others....all located directly next to the taxiway / runway where a massive selection of present day carriers can be seen incl an A380 everyday.
I live just a couple of miles from MAN so if you want a tour just let us know  ;)

http://www.manchesterairport.co.uk/manweb.nsf/content/runwayvisitorpark

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEcOpHaNeAQ&feature=player_embedded
« Last Edit: August 24, 2012, 09:22:41 PM by SAC »
...it's not over until I say it's over

 

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