The German Auto and Technik Museum at Sinsheim is preparing to start re-assembling Concorde F-BVFB after its Sunday morning arrival at the museum. The aircraft has been stripped of its outer wings, engines and tail section for the journey from the Baden Airpark (Karslruhe Baden-Baden airport, in south-west Germany) to the museum.
Thousands of Germans lined motorway bridges in the middle of the night to wave and cheer as a giant truck bearing the Concorde drove past, while thousands more were at the museum to greet the aircraft, which will be displayed on a giant stand above the existing museum roof.
The previous day the aircraft had completed a 50 km (30 mile) journey along the river Rhine, floating on a giant pontoon.
The aircraft departed Friday from the Baden Airpark on an 18-axle low loader. The whole load (aircraft and low loader) was transferred onto a barge later the same day at the nearby NATO slip-ramp.
Museum officials, who hope Concorde's arrival will boost visitor numbers by 30%, were taken aback but the scale of the German welcome.
"It was amazing," project director Michael Einkoern told the BBC. "From one o'clock in the morning, right through to five o'clock, every bridge was crowded."
"People were clapping, waving - they were really crazy."
"Concorde has this mystique - it's the only supersonic plane, and it's beautiful."
The combined weight of Concorde and the transporter lorry - 140 tonnes - and the width of the aircraft made it one of the trickiest moves the museum has ever undertaken.
But the operation went without a hitch, said Mr Einkoern.
Traffic signs and lights had to be dismantled and trees had to be cut down for the 35km (22-mile) motorway journey.
"If someone had said to me six months ago that I would be driving a 25-metre wide aircraft on the motorway one day, I would have said they were crazy," said lorry driver Heinz Roessler.
The final challenge now is to put the pieces back together, which the museum expects to take around two weeks. Over the coming month the museum will work on the foundations and infrastructure to allow the aircraft to be mounted onto the roof of the museum. Before that happens, visitors will be able to see the re-assembled aircraft in the grounds of the museum complex.
Concordesst.com will detail the trip shortly, but the journey can be followed on the museum's Concorde micro-site. Clicking on points marked on the route map will bring up a selection of pictures.
Another selection of over 300 pictures of the move can be found on this page.
Pictures - Auto and Technik Museum , Quotes - BBC news on-line
Air France Concorde F-BVFB is making its final journey this weekend to the Auto and Technik Museum at Sinsheim.
The aircraft departed from the Baden-Airpark on Friday with the aid of an 18-axle low loader, and was transferred onto a barge later the same day at the nearby NATO slip-ramp.
Early Saturday morning the aircraft began the trip up the River Rhine. It will be offloaded at Altlußheim after a 50 km (30 miles) river trip, where it will then begin the hardest part of the journey by road to the museum.
Crews from Air France, the museum, and local contractors have been working on readying the plane for transport since it landed at Karlsruhe-Baden-Baden airport on June 25, removing the Olympus engines, tail fin and the outer wings in an effort to make the plane lighter and smaller.
However, even with the outher wings dismantled, the Concorde still measures 14.45 meters (47 feet) across. This means that officials will have to close down part of the A6 Autobahn on Saturday evening for the final leg of the plane's overland journey to the museum.
Early Sunday the Concorde is to be lifted into position into the museum grounds, where work begins to secure the jet and ready it to be opened to the public, scheduled for next spring, before which it will be re-assembled, re-painted and lifted onto the museum's roof.
Pictures - Auto and Technik Museum
According to the "Scotland on Sunday" newspaper, Concorde could find a new home at Prestwick Airport and could be used to conduct experiments on hypersonic flight, under a new plan submitted to British Airways.
Under the proposals, all 5 of the serviceable BA aircraft would be based at the Ayrshire airport, which for many years was the main BA Concorde flight training base.
A consortium of engineers and scientists, led by Dr Arthur Hodkin, said the aircraft would be used as part of a 20-year programme to develop aircraft capable of flying at 5,000mph and heights of 100,000-250,000ft. Such performance, if it were ever achieved, would make Concorde’s vital statistics of 1,350mph at a cruising altitude of 60,000ft seem pedestrian.
Hodkin, who runs the Cheshire-based joint venture company Sphere Environmental Consultants, has offered BA a share in the project, which he believes would earn the airline £1bn if successful.
Hodkin's plans for the aircraft would allow 2 or more aircraft to be based at aviation museums in England, such as Duxford or Filton, with them flying into Prestwick when required for test flight purposes.
"If BA sells off the fleet, it will lose all the assets it has built up over 27 years. My offer keeps it in touch with them," he said.
He said he believed Concorde could be used to show that the theoretical idea of ‘wave-rider planes’, which fly on the shock wave created when the sound barrier is broken, was technically possible.
"In principle we can do it. But you don’t know until you have proved it in practice. A computer model is only as good as the assumptions put into it," Hodkin said.
"Eventually you need something that works and to prove it works."
He said Prestwick was the best site in Britain for test-flying supersonic craft because it has a long runway, and the planes, which he admitted were "noisy", can take off over the Firth of Clyde, rather than over densely populated areas. Although a regular visitor in the 70's and 80's, Concorde has not visited the airport for many years after complaints by the locals in the early 1990's ... about the noise!
Picture of G-BOAF at Prestwick in 1980 by Brian Hill
BA have announced that Concorde will go on a round-Britain farewell tour of the United Kingdom, with the passengers being the winners from a British Airways run competition.
The tour will start on Monday October 20th. The aircraft will be visiting Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Manchester and Belfast, before heading back to London for the Final Time on the 24th, when it will be joined by the inbound aircraft from the final-ever supersonic BA002 service from New York.
Each day, Concorde will leave from London Heathrow in the morning and visit one of the 5 destinations, then return to London in the evening. Whilst in the cities, British Airways will open an exclusive Concorde exhibition, just for that day. Further details to follow soon on this site.
Anyone is eligible to enter the competition to win one of the 325 pairs of tickets. Taking part is easy, with people being asked to call 09069 150 001 and answer a multiple-choice question on the Concorde flying time across the Atlantic. The calls are to a premium rate telephone number, with all profits going to charity.
The Question is:
"To the nearest minute, what is the fastest ever recorded time between New York JFK and London Heathrow on Concorde?"
Hint - The answer can be found on a few places on this site!
There are 2 way to enter:
Call 09069 150 001 (calls cost no more than £2, mobile cost may vary),
Enter by post by sending your name, home telephone
number and postcode, together with your answer to the competition
question, to this address:
National Concorde Competition, British Airways FREEPOST SCE12858, PO Box 365, Harmondsworth, West Drayton, UB7 0GZ.
The airline will enter all those answering correctly, on or before July 20th, into a prize draw. The competition winners will win a pair of tickets on one leg of the tour, which includes a flight that will take you out over the Atlantic, breaking the sound barrier on your way to Mach 2. You’ll be served with champagne whilst on-board, before your eventual return to the airport and an exclusive opportunity to view the BA Concorde exhibition.
A few lucky winners of the competition, which is is open only to UK residents, will get the chance to be on Concorde’s very last passenger flight from New York to London.
One interesting fact to note is that Concorde can carry 100 passengers, but for 5 cities there are a total of 650 tickets (325 pairs), so possibly some cities will see more than one flight each day, and there may be more tickets to follow.
BA's marketing director Martin George said today: "This competition marks the first in a series of events we have planned to ensure that Concorde gets the send off she deserves."
"Concorde is a fantastic aircraft, which means so much to so many people. We want as many people as possible to experience supersonic travel before Concorde retires at the end of October."
British Airways have launched a new Concorde microsite to celebrate the final days of Concorde.
Concordesst.com will have full details on where and when you will be able to see Concorde, so watch this space.
Its last flight, from Paris CDG to Karlsruhe-Baden-Baden on June 24th, went smoothly enough, but for Fox-Bravo the journey isn't over yet. The aircraft is to be transported by road to the Rhine, then by ship and then again by motorway to the museum. For this, the nose, outer wing sections and tail are removed at the airport, and then re-assembled at Sinsheim.
Initially planned for July 11th, the journey has now been put back to July 18. According to the museum, the week's delay is due to the necessary road works near the airport. Even without the outer wings the aircraft is still 14 metres / 46 ft wide. The only way to get it to pass under some of the road bridges is by tilting it diagonally! Trees, traffic lights, road signs and a screen wall on the motorway will all have to get out of the way of Concorde.
The trip up the Rhine will take about two days. "Our biggest problem is going to be: how do we get the aircraft off the ship?" said Hermann Layher, the museum director. Special cranes will be needed for the operation. The empty weight of the Concorde, even partially dismantled, is close to 90 tons.
Pictures - Nicolas TOTEL
After a two-month break from flying duties, during which the aircraft was put through a planned engineering check, British Airways Concorde G-BOAF has returned to the air with a 3 hour airtest in and out of London Heathrow.
During the engineering check, Alpha-Foxtrot was also fitted with the new strengthened cockpit door. These cockpit doors are now mandatory for all flights into the US. They had been ordered for the BA Concorde fleet towards the end of 2002.
The return to service of BA's 5th modified Concorde is expected to open up the path for the airline to complete their planned Concorde Celebrations in September and October, as well as providing an additional aircraft to ensure that no BA001 and BA002 flights will need to be cancelled for technical reasons, which could leave hundreds of passengers disappointed.
G-BOAF - Concorde 216, the final aircraft built - is the favoured aircraft to be put on display at Filton Airport outside Bristol, after the fleet are retired. The BA Concorde's were built at Filton and G-BOAF, the 16th production aircraft built, was the final ever aircraft to be built on the West Country site, which now manufactures major components for the Airbus aircraft that are assembled in France.
The picture shows G-BOAF departing from LHR for her airtest
On Friday 27 June 2003, Air France Concorde F-BVFC flew the airline's last ever supersonic flight. Fox-Charlie departed from Paris Charles de Gaulle and returned to its place of construction at Toulouse.
(serial number 209) first flew in the Air France fleet on the 3rd
of August 1976, and made two round-the-world trips.
The first was from 6 to 28 September 1989, traveling 51,354 km in 37 hours 25 minutes, including 19 hours 17 minutes at supersonic speed, and the second was from 10 to 26 October 1993, traveling 43,084 km in 35 hours 20 minutes, including 17 hours 5 minutes at supersonic speed.
Fox-Charlie was retired to the Airbus factory, where it will form the centre piece of a museum celebrating the region's aviation heritage. In total the aircraft flew for 14,322 hours and 4,358 flights.
"This last Concorde flight marks the end of an era for Air France", declared Jean-Cyril Spinetta, Chairman of Air France. "We wanted Airbus, creator of Concorde and our partner throughout its 27-year lifespan, to have one of Air France's Concordes and to display it for as many people as possible to admire. The magnificent work carried out on F-BVFC throughout its career is symbolic of all that has been accomplished by the teams from Air France and Airbus on the entire Concorde fleet and other aircraft in use today."
The aircraft departed from Paris at around 11:30 and flew out over the Atlantic Ocean for a final supersonic sprint, before heading overland subsonically to the former Aerospatiale factory at Toulouse, where a ceremony was planned to greet the aircraft.
On board the aircraft for the flight, along with Noël Forgeard and Jean-Cyril Spinetta, were many VIP figures from Concorde's long history, including the crew who flew the very first flight in 1969 on Concorde 001 (F-WTSS).
Over 30,000 people from the area surrounding Toulouse turned out to see the aircraft arrive. Everyone from the Airbus plant was allowed to line up along the airport taxiway to watch the arrival of the jet, without which Airbus would not have been as successful as it is now in the global aircraft production industry.
The aircraft, crewed by Commander Henri-Gilles Fournier, Co-pilot Eric Tonnot and Flight Engineer Daniel Casari, overflew the airport in a go-around maneuver before circling round and landing for the last-ever time. The crew took the aircraft on a tour of the taxiways of Toulouse to show off Concorde to the gathered crowds for one final time before taxing to the Airbus factory.
After the aircraft had taxied off the main airport apron she was towed the final few hundred meters to be parked outside the very same hanger that Concorde had been officially rolled out from in 1967, nearly four decades ago.
Inside the famous hanger, over 1000 specially invited guests were present for the handing-over ceremony, that would officially see the aircraft being signed over to Airbus from the national carrier.
After the aircraft was parked, the VIPs disembarked, with the biggest cheer of the day being reserved for André Turcat when he emerged from the aircraft. André Turcat was the pilot who in March 1969 took Concorde into the air for the very first time. He, along with his UK counterpart, the late Brian Trubshaw, were pivotal in planning and implementing the flight test programmes that would eventually lead to the certification of the aircraft in late 1975.
Although it was not planned, Mr Turcat was invited to address the invited guests and he was officially introduced to the curator of the new museum who will now be responsible for the aircraft. Above André Turcat was suspended a blown-up picture of him handing over the key to an aircraft for the sum of 1 Franc in the early 80's, when no buyers could be found for the 3 unsold French-built aircraft.
After the ceremony, André Turcat and his fellow crew members from the original flight were besieged with requests for autographs on special Concorde posters that had been printed for the day's event. An hour after the completion of the formalities he was till happily signing away!
By the time he had finished, the Airbus ground crew had collected Fox-Charlie and towed her to her temporary home on an unused access road at the main entrance to the Airbus factory, a location that everyone would see when visiting the plant.
For Air France it is nearly the end of their part in the Concorde story. A small team of engineers will complete the final work on Concorde F-BVFF, which will go on display at their Paris Charles de Gaulle base in the coming months.
The airline plans to hold an auction in November to sell off all their remaining Concorde assets for charity. The auction will be delayed until November to enable British Airways to have access to the inventory, under a long standing agreement, until they complete their final flight on October 24th.
The airline also re-affirmed that it is considering a plan that could see the supersonic aircraft performing at airshows and doing fly-pasts for many more years to come. A likely home for the one remaining Concorde that could continue flying would be Filton in Bristol, where the supersonic aircraft was built and which is now the Airbus UK site for BAE Systems.
"We are hopeful that Concorde can still fly after October, but at the end of the day it will be the technical feasibility that will be the key issue," said BA spokesman Iain Burns.
He went on: "Whatever happens, Concorde will not fly passengers again and a lot of work is still needed before any decisions are made."
The 12 museums on the current shortlist are:
After a suggestion by the author of this website, amongst others, BA is also looking at the possibility of flying a Concorde to America to coincide with the 100th anniversary on December 17, 2003 of the Wright brothers' first manned, powered flight. Such a Concorde trip might be feasible should BA choose to house one of its seven Concordes in either Seattle or Washington.
BA stressed that any home for the aircraft would have to have a link with the company and with aviation, and that any plans for the aircraft would have to include allowing people access to it and be "fitting and relevant".
In another development picked up by the media (read BBC!), only too keen to knock Concorde, G-BOAC was 'Grounded' after she returned from New York on Saturday. In fact she was not really 'grounded', but during a routine check to correct a fuel gauge anomaly, after her arrival as seen in the picture opposite, some wiring was found to be damaged and needed to be replaced.
As BA have 3 other Concorde flying happily (the 5th is going through a scheduled engineering check), Alpha-Charlie was withdrawn to allow the work to be completed without impacting the scheduled operations. As a precaution, the same wiring on the other 4 aircraft was checked and surprisingly turned out to be fine....funny that!
The museum purchased the aircraft for the token sum of 1 euro, and it will go on display as a tribute to the 75 Germans who died in the Paris Concorde crash in Paris in July 2000.
"The homage we wish to pay to the victims of this crash, which we know had a profound effect on the people of Germany, naturally led Air France to donate one of its Concordes to the Auto and Technik Museum Sinsheim," Air France Chairman Jean-Cyril Spinetta told Reuters.
"Air France has vowed to keep Concorde alive. By donating it to the Auto & Technik Museum Sinsheim, we know that F-BVFB will be preserved in the best possible conditions, and will be admired by as many people as possible," added Jean-Cyril Spinetta.
F-BVFB departed from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport at 10:45 as flight AF 4406, performing a final supersonic loop over the Atlantic before landing at Karlsruhe-Baden-Baden Airport in southwestern Germany for a 12:30 landing.
At Karlsruhe-Baden-Baden the aircraft will be stripped of its trademark nose, along with the wing tips, tail fin and tail cone. Once stripped down, it will take a trip by barge down the Rhine river to the Sinsheim Auto and Technik Museum, where it will be re-assembled and take its place among other aviation treasures, including a Tu 144. The Tupolev Tu 144 is situated on the roof adjacent to the one on which Fox-Bravo will be mounted.
F-BVFB was the 7th production aircraft built and entered the Air France fleet on April 8, 1976. It flew around the world between September 1st and 21st, 1988, travelling 47,572 km in 38 hours and 13 minutes. F-BVFB flew round the world again in 1998 and 1999 and included a visit to the newly opened Hongkong Chek Lap Kok airport. In total, it has flown 14,771 hours and performed 5,473 flights.
In 1990 the aircraft was approaching the 12,000hr flying mark where an expensive major or D check would be required. At that time, Air France had 5 other aircraft that were not "hours challenged" and they were only operating a scheduled service to New York along with a handful of charters, so they decided to store the aircraft in June of 1990.
By 1996 it was clear to the airline that the major checks of the rest of the fleet would have to be completed in the coming years, therefore Fox-Bravo would be needed to provide enough aircraft, so its D check was started in April 1996. The aircraft returned to passenger service in May 1997, after 7 years out of service.
After the Paris crash, Fox-Bravo was the first aircraft in the Air France fleet to be modified with the tank liners a few months later. It was therefore first to be re-certified for passenger flight and flew the majority of the Air France crew training flights before the aircraft went back into service.
F-BVFB also holds the honour of being the last ever Air France flight with fare paying passengers on-board. Due to a small technical delay on the 31st of May, the "Round the Bay of Biscay" charter flight being operated by Fox-Bravo was late to depart, so it landed back at CDG roughly 45mins after the inbound New York flight had arrived, to close out paying Concorde passenger service from Air France.
Concordesst.com will follow the aircraft's final journey to the museum over the coming weeks. The move is scheduled for July 11th and 12th.
Pictures - Phillipe Noret , Auto and Technik Museum, Alexander Elsas and Christopher Schmidt ...Thanks!
Virgin Atlantic owner Richard Branson is planning to make a renewed attempt to wrestle Concorde from British Airways by bidding £1m for each of the flying supersonic aircraft.
When it was first announced that Concorde would be taken out of service Branson offered £1 per aircraft, the price he believed that BA paid the government for the aircraft in the 1970's and 1980's, although he subsequently found out that BA, as a company, paid in excess of £180m for the aircraft in 1970's prices
The Virgin tycoon said he had spoken to two 'operators' who would issue safety certificates for the delta-winged jet, although he would not name them. He would keep the planes flying to New York and Barbados, and add a new destination, Dubai.
It is not known if these "operators" will also provide the manufacturer support that is the key to ensuring that Concorde stays in the air, and that according to BA's management has been one of the main reasons it is being taken out of service earlier that planned, along with it becoming more expensive to operate.
Branson said: “Virgin Atlantic is currently negotiating to operate Concorde when BA takes it out of service on October 31. We are increasing our offer. We have operators ready to help us keep it flying and would serve New York, Barbados and Dubai, a new destination for the plane.”
“We hope we succeed but ultimately that ball is in BA’s court. The £5m gives BA a considerable return on the £5 that it originally paid for Concorde.”
Aviation experts consider it highly unlikely that BA will sell to Branson, because this it would give the Virgin boss a huge publicity coup. He hopes to encourage BA shareholders to force the board to accept his offer, which would provide a small boost to BA’s balance sheet and give Virgin Atlantic five working Concordes.
Branson now understands that BA do not in fact have seven operational aircraft, but he is now asking for the two remaining non-operational planes for parts......at no extra cost.
If BA were to turn his bid down again, he wants Concorde placed into a heritage trust, which would see the planes kept in semi-commercial service. The trust would be kept afloat by contributions across the aircraft industry.
Plan "B" involves flying two Concordes to the BAE Systems factory at Filton near Bristol where it was designed and built, where a heritage trust could be formed and all the original manufacturers and airlines involved in Concorde could contribute to keeping at least two of the aircraft flying a semi-commercial service.
Virgin has pledged to donate £1m to establish the trust, but this would be only a small fraction of the annual sums required. British Airways is already carrying out a feasibility study to keep one Concorde in flying order for airshows and special fly-past events.
“We are still finalising our post-retirement plans for Concorde,” said a spokesman. “One idea being considered is to keep one plane alive for things like the Queen’s birthday. But as regards passenger operations, that remains unchanged — we are clear that Concorde will not fly commercially beyond 2003.”
The £3,499 fare is for one way Concorde and one way World Traveller. Special one way Concorde fares can also be combined with World Traveller Plus, Club World and First. The "full-on" experience of a Concorde return flight starts from £6,499 in September.
British Airways director of UK and Ireland sales and marketing Tiffany Hall said: “The demand to fly on Concorde over the summer has been fantastic and we want to make Concorde as accessible to as many people as possible. Now with these special fares, we hope that more people will be able to enjoy the Concorde experience before her retirement.”
Concorde package specialist Goodwood Travel are offering a selection of holidays in New York, that include BA's special fares. A one night holiday in New York, complete with a chauffeur transfer to and from JFK airport starts at £3,935. The stay can be extended to 3 nights for an all-inclusive price of £4,175.
For full details of the British Airways and Goodwood Travel offers, see the updated "Fly on Concorde" page
Detail of the possible Concorde experience flights, in and out of Heathrow and other UK airports have not yet been announced.
Air France's record-breaking Concorde F-BTSD was retired to Le Bourget on Saturday June 14th, with very little of the pomp and circumstance that should have surrounded the final flight of such an important aircraft. Sierra Delta flew overhead during the opening air display of the 2003 Paris airshow before landing at the airfield, where she will go on display at the French Air and Space museum.
Sierra Delta, which holds the records for the fastest round-the-world commercial flight, made its final flights on Saturday, before slowly taxiing to its new home at the national museum. Earlier in the day the aircraft had flown a final supersonic trip around the Bay of Biscay with VIPs on board.
As passengers are not allowed on board during airshow flights, the VIP flight took place earlier in the day, to allow the VIP passengers to disembark at CDG and be bussed to Le Bourget for the handing-over ceremony. The arrival of "SD" at Charles de Gaulle at 9:45 marked the final ever Concorde arrival at the Paris hub, that has been Concorde's home for the past 27 years.
As has been the scene at CDG for all Concorde flights since the decision to retired the fleet was announced, many enthusiasts turned out at the airport as the aircraft taxied past to salute them, with the traditional drooping of the nose and visor, while the aircraft's flight crew waved out of the windows.
Concorde 213 is a gift of Air France to the Le Bourget Air and Space Museum. The arrival of the aircraft in the blue skies over the Paris Air Show brought a hush to the crowd of spectators, straining to hear the approach of the unique sound of the Rolls-Royce Olympus engines.
French president Jacques Chirac, seated in a viewing stand along with his defense and transport ministers, the cream of the French aviation industry and the crowd broke into measured applause.
Sierra Delta holds the records for the fastest round-the-world commercial flights -- in 1992 westbound and in 1995 eastbound -- due to its fuel-saving lightness compared to other Concordes, this in turn due to it being one of the last built and new technologies having been used during its construction, such as titanium rivets.
Since joining the Air France fleet on May 18th Sept 1979, first on lease and eventually sold to AF in October 1980, F-BTSD has flown 11 globe-circling trips and clocked 12,974 hours in 5,136 flights. It flew the last commercial flight May 31st from New York to Paris.
For her final flight Sierra Delta was under the command of pilot Roland Demeester, with Patrick Delangle as the co-pilot and Yannick Pluchon as the flight engineer.
F-BTSD will go on show at the museum which also houses the very first ever Concorde prototype 001 : F-WTSS.
"It is an honor for Air France to officially donate F-BTSD, an aircraft with multiple records, to the Air and Space Museum," Air France chairman Jean-Cyril Spinetta told museum director Marc Alban in a ceremony under the Concorde prototype.
"This aircraft, particularly an icon, should figure in one of the greatest aeronautics museums. The Concorde is part of the aeronautic legacy and, as such, Air France should offer it a second life, notably through its exposition at the Air and Space Museum."
The next flight is scheduled to be the retirement ferry flight of F-BVFB on June 24th to the Technik Museum Sinsheim in Germany, with the final flight of F-BVFC set for June 27th to Airbus in Toulouse.
Final landing picture of F-BTSD on June 14th - Phillipe Noret
Approach and CDG taxi picture on June 14th - Webmaster
Handover signing - Agency pool
Air France Concorde F-BVFA has made its final ever flight to its final home at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. The aircraft travelled from Paris to Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia, to go on display at the museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, the Smithsonian’s museum new companion facility, adjacent to the airport, which will open to the public on Dec. 15th, 2003
Fox-Alpha will be the first Concorde exhibited by a museum in the United States. It is the oldest of the five in the Air France fleet. The airline ended 27 years of Concorde service last month and, through an agreement signed in 1989, they had promised the Smithsonian the airplane on its retirement.
“Thanks to the generosity of Air France, this aircraft that captured the imagination of the world will now dazzle visitors at the Udvar-Hazy Center,” museum Director Gen. J.R. “Jack” Dailey said. “As we approach the next century of flight, the story of this remarkable airplane lives on as testament to the next generation of aerospace design as well as our trans-Atlantic friendship.”
The airplane will be kept at a Dulles airport storage location for several months while the museum continues to move smaller aircraft and space artifacts into the new museum facility.
The Concorde, almost 204 feet long and with a maximum landing weight of just over 109 tons, is far too large and heavy for display in the Smithsonian’s downtown Washington DC Mall building. It will be exhibited at ground level in the Udvar-Hazy (pronounced OOD-var HAH-zee) Center aviation hangar at Dulles Airport
Concorde F-BVFA launched Air France’s supersonic service, flying Paris to Dakar to Rio de Janeiro in January 1976, and inaugurated the airline's Washington service later that year. The aircraft made a round-the-world trip in 1998 in 41 hours, 27 minutes. On its delivery to the Smithsonian, Fox-Alpha will have accumulated 17,824 flight hours during 6,967 flights.
The aircraft, which was crewed by Commander Jean-François Michel (Head of the Concorde division), First Officer Gérard Duval and Flight Engineer Jean-Yves Dronne, departed from Paris at 10:13 am (Paris time) and arrived at Washington Dulles at 9:46 am EST.
Dr. F. Robert van der Linden, who will be the museum’s curator for the Concorde, was on the airplane’s last flight. The aircraft's final passenger service was from New York to Paris on May 30th, 2003. The aircraft flew overhead the airport runway, dipping her wings, before circling around and coming in for landing.
More than 200 aircraft are ultimately destined for the Udvar-Hazy Center’s aviation hangar, which is ten stories high and the length of three football fields—enough space to hold the museum’s flagship building on the National Mall inside with room to spare.
The center will eventually display the 80 percent of the national air and space collection not currently housed at the building on the Mall or on loan to other museums and institutions.
Smaller aircraft at the center will hang at two levels from the aviation hangar’s trusses. Rising walkways will allow visitors to see the suspended aircraft up close while providing a sense of soaring.
Construction work continues on the McDonnell Space Hangar, which will house America’s first space shuttle, Enterprise. The space hangar will be completed by opening day with the Enterprise installed and visible; however, the structure will not be accessible to the public until 2004, as Enterprise undergoes refurbishment. During the interim, some 50 large space artifacts will be previewed in the aviation hangar. The space hangar will ultimately house some 135 large space artifacts.
Sheila Burke, of the Smithsonian Institution said at the donation ceremony: " At first sight, there are few similarities between the Wright flyer and the Concorde. After all, the Wright flyer flew just 120 feet in 12 seconds across the sands of Kitty Hawk on that first flight, that historic day nearly 100 years ago."
"And, today, the Concorde flew three thousand eight hundred miles across the Atlantic in roughly three hours. Yet both represent enormous flights of imagination."
Former Air France Captain Edouard Chemel paid tribute to Concorde's timeless qualities:
"I do not believe there will be another supersonic plane within decades, so she will remain the first and, of course, the only one. I believe, in the museum, she will start a new life with people looking at her and appreciating all things."
"She loved the firsts," said the retired pilot "This was not an ordinary plane. She was the best of the fleet."
In donating the aircraft to the Smithsonian, Air France Chairman Jean-Cyril Spinetta said the airline is confident “Concorde will be seen and admired by as many people as possible.”
"Back in 1989, Air France promised F-BVFA to this prestigious museum, the most visited in the world," said Spinetta. "Air France's worldwide staff is pleased that Concorde, which graced the skies between France and the United States for almost three decades, will continue its legacy on the other side of the Atlantic."
Air France will have all their four flyable Concorde's in museums by the end of June. The next scheduled flight is for F-BTSD to fly to Le Bourget, Paris, on Saturday June 14th.
Final take off picture of F-BVFA on June12th: Phillipe Noret
Final Landing picture : Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
With the end of commercial Concorde services at the end of May and the final VIP flight to New York over, Air France are carrying out final preparations that will see their 4 serviceable aircraft ferried to museums.
The first flight will take place on Thursday June 12th, when F-BVFA will depart from CDG at noon. Fox-Alpha is headed for the Smithsonian Museum aviation wing at Dulles Airport, Washington D.C., where arrival is scheduled for shortly after 11 am. The aircraft will be moved to the new aviation wing where it will be officially handed over to the Museum.
F-BTSD will fly the short hop from CDG to Le Bourget on June 14th, in time for the start of the Paris Airshow.
The most interesting journey will be for F-BVFB: the aircraft will fly from CDG to Karlsruhe Airport, Baden Baden in South West Germany. This aircraft is destined for the Auto & Technik Museum Sinsheim, when it will go on display on the museum's roof, next to a TU 144. Museum guest will be able to climb up a spiral staircase and walk inside the aircraft.
After the aircrafts scheduled arrival at Karlsruhe Airport at 12:45 on June 24th, 3 weeks of work will begin that will allow the aircraft to be transported by road and river barge to the museum site. The wing tips will be removed from the engine bay outward, by removing 640 high-tensile steel bolts. The nose, tail and tail cone will also be removed for the journey, that has been tentatively scheduled for the 11th and 12th of July.
The final ever Concorde flight in Air France colours will take place a few days later when F-BVFC will fly to Toulouse on June 27th.
British Airways will continue to operate their highly successful services, that according to the Times newspaper have been running at near 100% loads, until the end of October.
BA are still considering what museums their aircraft will go to, but are also seriously looking at what would be required to keep an aircraft in the air post-October, with a view to using it for airshows and flypasts.
Mike Bannister, Concorde’s Chief Pilot, told the Times newspaper: “One of the things we have been contemplating is whether Concorde can be used in a heritage role. Concorde is very much more complex than other vintage aircraft still flying, which is one issue, as is the operating license needed to take her up on occasions. But it is something we are pursuing.”