LATEST NEWS

STORY ARCHIVE Sept 2003

Fox-Bravo re-assembed - 20/8/2003

Air France Concorde F-BVFB is nearing completion! The re-assembly phase of the project, that will see it go on display next to the Russian Tu 144 SST at the Auto and Technik Museum Sinsheim ,South West Germany, is moving on apace.

To transport the aircraft from the Karlsruhe Baden-Baden airport to the museum, the wing tips, tail fin and tail cone had to be removed. They were detached at the main construction joints on the aircraft so that they could be easily re-attached at the museum. For transport, the landing gear was retracted and then re-deployed under gravity at the museum. The main gear doors can be seen open in the picture, these will be closed at a later stage.

The aircraft, on a low loader, was moved by road and by barge along the river Rhine in an operation that took nearly 3 days at the end of July.

The museum expects to hoist the aircraft to its new position on the roof of the museum in early 2004 and have it open for the public by Easter. Visitors to the museum will be able to go board the aircraft via a special staircase at the rear of the aircraft.

It is expected that British Airways will move one or two of their Concordes by a similar method. Yet again Concorde is set to make news, this time for all the right reasons, as they head off to their final homes, which will see millions of people to be able to once again step on board of what was (and still is) a truly remarkable aircraft.

Picture - Auto and Technik Museum Sinsheim


BA004 returns for a limited time in October - 22/8/2003

BA will operate the evening BA004 flight from New York to London Heathrow on 3 occasions in October, in the run-up to the aircraft being retired.

BA004 flights are scheduled on Friday 3rd and 10th and Thursday 16th October. The aircraft will depart from JFK at 13:00 and arrive at Heathrow around 22:00.

BA are able to operate these flights since an additional Concorde will be in New York on each of these days, after ferrying in from the three cities on the "mini" North American tour.

The aircraft will fly out on the 1st, 8th and 14th of October to Toronto, Boston and Washington, respectively. The following day the aircraft will ferry to JFK, where the extra aircraft will operate the BA004. (Note: it is likely that the aircraft that carried out the tour flight will fly the BA002, with the inbound BA001 aircraft carrying out the BA004.)

Thanks to the people on the forum for pointing out this info!


Concorde bids farewell to the Caribbean - 30/8/03

The holiday island of Barbados has said goodbye to Concorde for the final time at the end of a summer season of five return flights.

Concorde has been a regular sight over the island for 21 years, since the launch of the first charter services. The aircraft first flew there even earlier, in 1977, to pick up the Queen at the end of her Jubilee tour.

Many events have been held on the island to give the aircraft a glittering send off, attended by several island luminaries.

After a delay in London, where passengers needed to switch to the back-up aircraft after the original aircraft developed a fault during taxi, G-BOAC took off shortly after 1pm and headed westbound across the Atlantic on supersonic track Sierra Papa (SP) for the final time.

BA's chief Concorde pilot Mike Bannister - who was in command for the outbound leg - said before the flight: "The last flight from Barbados marks a sad day as we count down to the final retirement of Concorde in October."

"We should take the time today to recognise and celebrate the tremendous contribution Concorde has made to the economic life of Barbados."

Just 4 hours later, Alpha Charlie touched down at Grantley Adams Airport near the islands' capital of Bridgetown, shortly after 12 noon.

Airport manager Joseph Johnson said the fact that Concorde flew here meant the island was a flagship country and added he had a dream that the “state-of-the-art aircraft” would fly here again as a museum piece. And, said Minister of Tourism and International Transport Noel Lynch, the journey yesterday would not be the last because Government was doing all it could to get the aircraft put up here.

After a quick turn-around and a farewell send-off by the Royal Barbados Police Band, along with a water cannon salute organised by the local ground crews, the aircraft taxied away from the stand and departed from the airport for the final time at 13:40 local time.

Up on the flight deck for the return flight to London were Captain Les Brodie and Captain Richard Owen. BA272 arrived into London Heathrow at 23:22, making up a good deal of the time from the earlier delay.

Earlier in the day, Captain Brodie said he had been flying the Concorde since 1995 and it was a very sad moment for him. At a press conference in the Club Caribbean Lounge he noted that it was "wonderful and super" to fly the aircraft. "We’re going to miss Barbados."

BA will replace Concorde with a new weekly subsonic round trip to Barbados from Heathrow and operate 11 weekly services from Gatwick.

The BA001 and BA002 flagship routes to New York are set to continue until October 24th, when Concorde will be retired to the history books as the chapter of supersonic passenger travel is closed… for now.

The picture shows G-BOAC departing from Heathrow on the final BA273 flight.
The BGI arrival picture is from www.nationnews.com.


Airbus Block Heritage Flight Plans - 6/9/03

Not content with their role in bringing Concorde passenger operations to an end, the French-based plane manufacturer, that hierarchically supports Concorde, has issued a firm "NON" to BA, putting an end to any hopes the carrier had of flying one aircraft (G-BOAG), at air shows and special flypasts for another 5-10 years.

Many in the aviation industry suspected all along that Concorde demise was brought forward, with Airbus and Air France secretly deciding that they no longer wanted the aircraft in the air. It was well known that British Airways were not ready to retire their flagship just yet, but were willing to fly it for a few more years, or at least until the massive investments needed to keep it in passenger service, with its aging systems, had become prohibitively expensive.

According to The Times, Airbus is refusing to share its technical expertise with any other company that could take over the role of supporting Concorde in its proposed heritage role.

Airbus seem to have forgotten very quickly how important Concorde was for them. Only 3 months ago, at the end of June, Noël Forgeard, CEO of Airbus, proclaimed during the arrival ceremony of Concorde F-BVFC at the Airbus HQ "It is a great honour for us to receive this unique aircraft here in Toulouse, whose technology greatly contributed to the success of Airbus."

A Concorde in the colours of British Airways could now possibly fly for the last time, on a one-way ticket to a museum in the States on December 17 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

Jock Lowe, BA’s former chief Concorde pilot, was asked by the airline six months ago to draw up a plan for saving one Concorde. “The idea was just to run half a dozen flights a year on special occasions. At least the plane would be alive and people could enjoy seeing it in the air.”

Mr Lowe said that Airbus would need to provide only minimal support because the ceremonial flights would be subsonic and carry no passengers. “We are only talking about 100 flying hours spread over five years. For that much flying, you could cannibalise the other Concordes for spares. But Airbus appears unwilling.”

Mr Lowe has spoken to several British companies about supporting Concorde and is confident one of them would be prepared to take on Concorde’s type certificate if Airbus was willing to co-operate.

In France, former Concorde engineers from Air France have formed a team to look after the systems on Concorde F-BTSD, situated at the Le Bourget Air and Space museum. They aim to keep its key systems operational, so that, if it should be given the opportunity to fly again, it can easily take to the skies. In the UK many fear the French could have a march on them, as once the UK aircraft are tucked away in museums around the world, Air France and Airbus could return this aircraft to flying condition.

An Airbus spokesman told The Times the company believed that Concorde should be grounded for good. “It's all very well to have a dream of keeping on flying but at the end of the day, if it is prohibitively costly, it doesn't make sense. Concorde may be an icon and something we can be proud of, but it's a very old plane. Are people seriously suggesting that we maintain a number of technical experts for an aircraft in case something needs to be changed or modified?”

Asked by The Times whether Airbus would be willing to pass on the type certificate to another company, the spokesman said: “I think the answer is ‘non’. It's not like a car where you can just slap on a spare part. You have to have an understanding of how it all fits together.” The spokesman initially claimed that Airbus employed a “huge number” of Concorde engineers, but when pressed to say how many, he admitted that there were “relatively few”.

In the UK a few Concorde engineers based at the UK Concorde manufacturing base at Bristol had offered to support Concorde, but appear to have been blocked by high level management in the company that is 80% owned by EADS and 20% owned by BAE Systems, formerly British Aerospace.

Most of the skills required to operate the aircraft in its "after-service role" would come from a pool of current BA engineers and flight crew staff, many of whom have an understanding of the aircraft that dates back to its construction. A few of of BA's Concorde staff started out working on the aircraft in the 1970s during its production and development programmes, and have a better understanding of the Concorde than Airbus, who inherited the support from the original joint manufacturers.

If companies are willing to provide the level of support required to keep what is a national icon in the air, many in the aviation industry that have followed the Concorde story for nearly 4 decades believe that the UK government, who invested over a billion pound in the aircraft's development, should get involved to prise away from Airbus the information required to allow another company to hold the aircrafts type certification, which in turn would allow it to fly for up to another 10 years in a heritage role around the UK.


Unofficial start for UK tour!!! - 17/9/03

G-BOAG has got the UK tour off to an earlier than planned start! Concorde Alpha-Golf, flying the BA002 bound for London, was forced to divert and land at Cardiff international airport on Wednesday evening (17th Sept). The aircraft is due to officially visit the airport as part of the UK tour on Thursday October 23rd, one day before the final passenger flights take place.

The aircraft suffered a surge in one of its four engines about three-quarters of the way into the flight across the North Atlantic. BA said that the aircraft had to complete the rest of the journey at subsonic speed, causing it to consume more fuel and forcing the diversion to Cardiff.

A BA spokesman added that there had been no danger to passengers or crew, and apologised for any inconvenience.

"Concorde flight BA002 was diverted into Cardiff as a precaution following an engine surge in one of its four engines during the flight," he said.

"The aircraft had to fly subsonic for part of the journey, and used more fuel. As a result it had to land at Cardiff."

Engineers from General Electric Aircraft Engine Servicing, an American-owned repair facility at Nantgarw Caerphilly which regularly services Concorde engines, were called to inspect the plane, along with BA's own specialist engineers

Normally at this stage there would be enough fuel reserves to reach the final destination, but the aircraft had already been one hour late leaving New York's JFK airport, after a rejected take off shortly after 9 am.

The aircraft would under normal circumstances have had sufficient fuel, with holding reserves, to carry on to Heathrow, but the additional taxi time while wating for a suitable runway at New York after arejected take-off meant that, although it would have had enough fuel to reach Heathrow, it could not do so with the mandatory reserves, so the pilots made the correct decision to divert to Cardiff.

As one engine had been shut down due to the surge, it was not possible to refuel and fly to London, so the passengers were bussed to London, while engineers worked on the aircraft before an empty ferry flight back to base at Heathrow

The UK tour will take in Birmingham on Monday 20th October, before heading to Belfast on the Tuesday, Manchester on the 22nd, Cardiff on the 23rd and Edinburgh on the final day of Concorde passenger flights, the 24th of October 2003. Each day the aircraft will make a return flight out and back into Heathrow to the cities concerned.

The pictures shows G-BOAG at Heathrow, a few days before the diversion and the aircraft holding at New York after the rejected take off, while they waited for runway 13R to open


BA Cancel Concorde Flights - 22/9/03

British Airways have withdrawn two return BA001/2 flight from Heathrow to New York for the aircraft's final week in revenue service. An additional 3 return flights have been withdrawn to allow the mini US tour to take place.

Although the airline have 5 operational Concorde aircraft, it would seem that they will not have enough aircraft to support the scheduled flights along with flying one additional aircraft to a UK city on each day of the final week. Withdrawing the 2 return flights, on which no bookings had been made, will ensure the UK tour goes with out a hitch and that each flight in the final week has a back up aircraft available.

The schedule for the final week is currently as follows

Saturday 18th October
BA001 LHR-JFK
BA002 JFK-LHR

Sunday 19th October
BA001 LHR-JFK
BA002 JFK-LHR
BBC Concorde special "Timewatch" programme on BBC2 TV

Monday 20th October
UK tour flight LHR - BIRMINGHAM
UK tour flight BIRMINGHAM - LHR
BA002 - Inbound from New York
NO BA001
Tues 21st October
UK tour flight LHR - BELFAST
UK tour flight BELFAST - LHR
BA001 LHR-JFK
NO BA002
Wednesday 22th October
UK tour flight LHR - MANCHESTER
UK tour flight MANCHESTER - LHR
BA002 - Inbound from New York
NO BA001
Thursday 23th October
UK tour flight LHR - CARDIFF
UK tour flight CARDIFF - LHR
Final BA001 departure from Heathrow to New York
NO BA002
Friday 24th October
UK tour flight LHR - EDINBURGH
UK tour flight EDINBURGH - LHR
Bay of Biscay VIP flight
Final BA002 inbound service from New York

 

All 3 inbound landings on Oct 24th will be at around 15:30-16:00 and will happen one after each other.

After understanding what would be their operational constraints for their final flying programme, BA released the final 450 seats to the public for the last week's New York flights on Monday 22nd Sept at 9 am. By 2 pm they were all gone.

The airline plans to operate only 20 individual Concorde flights between Saturday October 18 and the final day in service on Friday October 24, but they will carry up to 2,000 passengers - a weekly record for Concorde during her 27 years in service.

The very last flight on which customers could buy seats was for BA001 Heathrow to JFK on Thursday, October 23. The final BA002 on the 24th will be reserved for VIP's and airline guests.

Martin George, Director of Marketing, said: "People have been calling us all summer about buying a seat for the final week and we are delighted that we can now begin offering them to those people on our waiting lists as well as several hundreds of other customers".

More than 650 competition winners and 350 special guests will also enjoy the thrill of Concorde on her farewell tour of the UK when she will visit Birmingham, Belfast, Manchester, Cardiff and Edinburgh before culminating in a series of three farewell supersonic flights (from New York, Edinburgh and a staff flight in and out of Heathrow going around the Bay of Biscay) on her final day.


New Concorde videos and TV Programmes set to air- 30/9/03

With the end of BA Concorde services only a few weeks away TV producers are rushing to put the finishing touched to their newly commissioned TV and Video programmes.

2 notable productions are the new DVD/VHS from Fast forward productions : "Concorde – 27 Years of Supersonic Flight” and the BBC Timewatch strand's special on "Concorde : A Love Story"

Concorde – A Love Story tells the remarkable story of the life of the world’s only supersonic passenger jet.

A landmark documentary commissioned by the BBC’s flagship history series Timewatch, the broadcast will coincide with the retirement of the plane from the British Airways fleet this October after 27 years in service.

The film takes us through the aircraft's origins, development and birth, exploring the debates within and between the British and French governments as well as the story of its construction and first flight.

Through interviews with the key players who were crucial to the development of the story, we explore what Concorde has meant to Britain as a symbol of technological progress, of European prestige and as a cultural icon, while the touching recollections of designers, crew and passengers reveal the place that Concorde occupies in the public imagination not just in Britain, but around the world.

Concorde flies at twice the speed of sound - faster than a rifle bullet. It cruises at 11 miles high and makes the trip to NY in just over 3 hours. It has been likened to a modern time machine, able to get passengers to New York two hours before they left London.

The Russians built a supersonic passenger jet, but it crashed. The Americans tried to build one but got no further than an expensive wooden mock up. Britain and France's unmatched success was an achievement that many have compared to the American moon landings.

Featured interviews include those with former pilots including Brian Calvert and Jock Lowe. Other first hand accounts in the UK include Lord Heseltine, whose job it was to sell Concorde, Sir David Frost, with over 400 flights to his name one of the most frequent flyers, film director and general Concorde fan Michael Winner, and JJ Burnel of the Stranglers who once penned a song protesting against the plane's American opponents. Ken Binning and Christopher Banjamin, civil servants formerly in charge of Concorde, tell the inside political story of its development, while Jospehine and Sarah Wiggs, whose father Richard founded the Anti-Concorde project, put the case for the plane's economic and environmental opponents.

U.S. interviewees include frequent flyer Dr. Henry Kissinger (former Secretary of State), supersonic opponent Robert MacNamara (former Defence Secretary under President Kennedy) and William T Coleman Jr, (Former Secretary of Transportation) whose landmark decision allowed Concorde to fly London to New York, the crucial route for which it was principally designed.

In France our contributors include former Air France Chief Concorde pilot Edouard Chemel, as well as the first man to fly Concorde, former French test pilot André Turcat.

Concorde : A Love Story airs on BBC 2 TV in the UK at 20:00 on October 19th. - NEW DAY AND TIME


The new DVD is a 4 hour collection of some of the best Concorde programmes released, complete with brand new, never seen before footage and a 1 hour audio documentary

The programme comprises:

Concorde Around The World:

Released for the first time, this extraordinary film follows the last ever BA round the world charter in late 1999 from aboard on the flight deck, in the cabin and on the ground as it visits 11 destinations in 28 days.

Follow in the footsteps of these exclusive travellers as they journey from the buzzing streets of Manhattan to the tranquillity of the South Seas. From the Sydney Opera House to the magic of the Orient. From the streets of India crowded with humanity, to the plains of Africa teeming with wildlife. And lastly from Petra, the jewel of the Middle East, to the canals and beautiful architecture of Venice, Europe’s most romantic capital. Join our cameras aboard this rare and ultimately exclusive journey that even most Concorde pilots can only dream about!

PLUS EXTRAS:

“ Concorde in the 21st Century”, “Concorde - The New Era” both on DVD for the first time

ALSO:

Base Training: Full and uncut footage from Shannon, where new pilots take the controls of Concorde for the first time. Footage includes airside ‘touch and go’ landings from many different angles along the runway and from the control tower.

AND:

’ The Concorde Story’ – An in-depth quality audio documentary programme produced by the BBC’s Chris Riley. The programme charts the development of Concorde from its conception to the present day. Plus ‘From the Flight Deck’, pilots commentary from a ‘round the bay’ flight.

The DVD can be orded now from both Amazon.co.uk for £11.24 or direct from the producers website at www.concordetribute.com.