Jan 21st 1976

BA Picture of first Scheduled flight
Adrian Meredith / British Airways

By the start 1976 the aircraft finally had been certified, and was available to the airlines to being scheduled services. There were just a few hurdles to overcome: A lack of aircraft to fly and lack of destinations willing to accept Concorde.

Air France took delivery of their first aircraft F-BVFA (c/n 205) at Toulouse on December 19th 1975. A few proving and training flights were undertaken before the airline was happy to start passengers services. As the delivery of the 2nd aircraft, F-BVFB, was a little behind schedule the manufacturers loaned Air France F-BTSC.

British Airways took delivery of their First Concorde proper, G-BOAA on Jan 14th. G-BOAC which had been used by BA for route proving had been returned to the manufacturer to be upgrade to BA specification and would not be available until Mid Feb 1976.

Both British Airways and Air France had been denied access to Concorde main destination of the United States by the US Congress for environmental reasons. This was soon to be overcome but the airlines wanted to get going.

The French carrier decided to launch its first supersonic flights to Rio de Janeiro (GIG), via Dakar (DKR) with two weekly flights as the AF025. British Airways would begin their supersonic services with a return flight to Bahrain as the BA300. The Bahrain sector would eventually, they hoped, form part of a route that would take Concorde to Singapore and onto Australia.

On 21 January 1976 at 11:40am, Air France Concorde F-BVFA and British Airway Concorde G-BOAA took off simultaneously to the seconds, in a set piece move that inaugurating the era of commercial supersonic travel.

Onboard were the great and good from the Governments and aviation industry, and included the respective transport secretaries and Chief executives of the airlines. The BA flight was crewd by Captain Norman Todd (who commanded the outward leg), Captain Brian Calvert (who would command the inbound leg), along with flight engineer Lidiard. Due a few technical issues with the certification of the aircraft a BAC observer was on the cockpit for the seven flights. For this flight Brian Turbshaw, The chief UK test pilot was on board.

The Air France route to the aircraft to the western edge of Africa for a technical stop at Dakar at 14:24. With the aircraft was on the ground a Dakar, the BA300 arrived on time at Bahrain at 15:20.

The AF025 took off at 15:45 and arrived shortly after 19:00, at its Rio De Janeiro destination.

Based on an article by Alain Mengus at Air Transport Business