LATEST NEWS

STORY ARCHIVE Early Oct 2003

Concorde visits Toronto - 1/10/03

British Airways Concorde G-BOAG has visited Toronto at the start of the mini North American cities tour, that will also see Washington and Boston receive special farewell visit from Concorde.

Alpha-Golf, flying as Speedbird Concorde 97, under the command of Captain Les Brodie, departed from London Heathrow at 16:37. Also on board Concorde was Captain Ron Weidner, flying as co-pilot.

The aircraft made good progress and landed at around 3:30 local time, at Pearson International Airport, Toronto, less than 4 hours after it departed from the UK. The event was covered live on local TV news stations.

Concorde has visited Toronto many times since it entered service in 1976, the last such visit was by G-BOAC on in October 1999."Toronto has embraced Concorde with the same wonderful enthusiasm with which it has supported all of our services over the last 40 years,” praises the airline’s David Noyes (executive vice president BA for North America).

"We wanted to bring the aircraft here one final time to show our appreciation."

" For more than 40 years, Torontonians have been strong supporters of British Airways," Mr. Noyes said. "And British Airways is very proud to be able to fly Concorde into Canada one last time before her retirement on October 24th."

Captain Les Brodie told the local TV station CTV, that the aircraft travelled the 3,800 miles in 3 hours 44 minutes and reached at height of 54,000ft. A special reception was held inside on of the airports hangers, where the passengers all got a chance to view Concorde up close

The following day the aircraft positioned on a subsonic flight to New York. Although the flight would be subsonic, all one hundred $1000 seats were still sold out for the flight in under two days of them going on sale

Alpha Golf's positioning to New York will allow the airline to operate an additional JFK-LHR flight on Friday. The BA004 will depart JFK shortly after 1pm and arrive into Heathrow at 22:00.

CTV in Canada has a video report of the landing available and the The Toronto Stat's travel editor was one of the 90 passengers on-board

The picture at the top shows G-BOAG departing Heathrow for Toronto, while the other 2 are screen grabs from CTV, Canada.


“Jetinder” to fly on Concorde - 4/10/03

ConcordeSST.com Forum member Jetinder Sira’s dreams will come true on October 21st when he will be a passenger on the penultimate BA001, thanks to the generosity of the ConcordeSST Forum members.

After one member of the forum, Mark, suggested that we group together, over £4500 was raised to give Jetinder a trip to New York, on an aircraft he has been viewing - and more importantly photographing - since 1976, when he was six.

From donations of a few pounds up to several hundred pounds the sum was raised in just over one month. Supplementing the donations was a CD compilation of Jet’s best ever photographs, sold via the Internet auction site eBay. The distribution of these will now be delayed to ensure that the pictures from his flight can be included!

Forum members “Sparky” and “WesternDh” headed up the fundraising, and were on hand at Heathrow on Friday night to surprise Jet - who thought that the fund had failed to meet it target - with his BA001 ticket. Forum members from around the South East, and also from much further afield, travelled to Heathrow, not to see Concorde this time (although they were treated to a great show), but to share the moment with Jetinder as his dream came true.

Also at Heathrow were a couple of TV news crews from the BBC who will feature his story in the coming days.

Jet told the forum after receiving his ticket:

“To EVERY single person on here and to EVERY single person who has helped me to fulfill my life long dream of flying on Concorde:

I really really really appreciate ALL the support you have given me in fulfilling my dream.

It still hasn’t sunk in, I still don’t believe that I will actually fly on her, I still don’t believe it, that after 27 years of watching her from age 6 to age 34, taking countless photos of her, feeling gutted when I missed her landing or taking off, dreaming about saving up enough money to fly on her, trying with Peer and the others to save her from Airbus (spit spit), that I now will actually get to fly on her! I still don’t believe it, I feel numb."

True to form, after being given his ticket and chatting briefly to the forum members who had gathered specially for the event (even from the US!), he had to rush of to get a shot of Concorde G-BOAE departing on the BA001.

Later on he put his thoughts on the forum for all to read and reply to. To read his full response, see Jet’s forum reply

The BBC will feature Jetinder as part of a report on Concorde on BBC on Monday the 13th as well as BBC London News on Friday. On the final day of Concorde flights, BBC London plan to show a special feature on Jetinder’s flight, featuring his own footage shot with a camcorder that they are loaning him. Hopefully BA will upgrade him on the way back!!!!

Concorde SST.com will feature some of his pictures from his trip after October 24th


Concorde Sets Another (two) Records - 8/10/03

Although it was delayed after a rejected Take-Off (caused by a re-heat failure) and a subsequent aircraft change at Heathrow, the north American tour flight to Boston looks set to enter the record books as the fastest transatlantic crossing going from East to West.

Concorde Alpha Delta, flown by Captain Mike Bannister, SFO Paul Griffin, SEO Liam Copper, along with Captain Adrian Thompson, landed in Boston on Wednesday in a record London-to-U.S. time of three hours, five minutes and 34 seconds, according to airline spokesman Jeff Angel.

The old record to Boston of three hours and nine minutes was set in 1974 on a flight from Paris to Boston, flew before the aircraft entered service on one of the development aircraft, Concorde 02 (F-WTSA)

Concorde is visiting Boston as part of its North American farewell tour, which includes stops in Toronto last week, Washington next week. the aircraft was towed to a new hangar at the airport, where a VIP reception was held, before Alpha-Delta ferried the following day to New York to operate a BA004 (JFK-LHR) on Friday 10th October.

British Airways (and Concorde G-BOAD!) now hold both the East-West and West-East transatlantic records, with the JFK-LHR record of 2hrs, 52mins and 59 seconds being set on the 7th of February 1996, by Captain Leslie Scott and his crew.

It is not the first record Concorde has set in recent weeks. In September, after another techncial fault, G-BOAG carried out a short test flight when being positioned back from Cardiff to Heathrow; The flight included a short supersonic "blast" round the Bay of Biscay to check out the systems that had contributed to the diversion.

The lightly loaded aircraft was able to accelerate to supersonic speeds directly out of Cardiff, into the Bristol Channel, and reached Mach1 in under 5 minutes, the best ever performance for a civil airliner. Only 7 minutes later they were cruising at Mach2!

The aircraft had never before had the chance to accelerate straight away with a light load. One Concorde test pilot commented that this performance was not even seen during the development programme as the departures always had a subsonic section before they reached the supersonic acceleration point.

Thanks to Tim Beachus for the picture of the Boston Arrival on the 8th of oct.


HM The Queen pays her own tribute to Concorde - 10/10/03

Under normal circumstance it would be Concorde flying past to salute the Monarch, but on the 23rd of October the tables will be turned when HM The Queen salutes what most regard as the queen of the skies, when she heads of to New York for her final passenger service.

Following a special request to the superintendent of Windsor Castle, Major Denman, HM The Queen has consented to the illumination of The Round Tower at Windsor Castle for the occasion of the final commercial departure of Concorde BA001 from London Heathrow to John F Kennedy Airport, New York on 23rd October, scheduled to depart at 18.30 and be in the air at around 18:50

The people of Windsor are proud that one of the most famous of all British landmarks will salute the aircraft as she departs Heathrow for her last commercial flight.

The Round Tower is to be floodlit from 18.00 hours until Concorde has departed and flown past on October 23rd

The significance of this royal salute cannot be underestimated; The floodlighting of Windsor Castle is a rare occurrence and is permitted only for major state events. The illumination for Concorde's departure on 23rd October symbolises the great affection that so many, included the Queen feel for the aircraft and forms a more than fitting farewell as she passes over Windsor for the last time. c

In 2002 Concorde and the Red Arrows performed a flypast for the Queen on her Golden Jubilee, and the HM The Queen has been known to stop and watch Concorde fly overhead if on an official engagement in or around London.

Story and picture impression from Thamesweb's Concorde page.


BA museum destination details emerge - 13/10/03

According to preliminary flight planning data, BA have decided where and when they will retire their 5 flyable Concordes to museums.

Against the wishes of the UK aviation community and general public at large, British Airways have decided that three of the fleet will go overseas. A poll on this website suggested that only 12% of people wanted 3 aircraft to be retired outside the UK, with the majority settling for the fact that 1 or 2 would fly overseas (50%).

The plan, as it is currently understood, is as follows:

  • Concorde G-BOAD will be retired to the Intrepid Air and Space Museum in New York. It will fly to New York posisbly on Monday October 27th , where work will begin to transport it onto a barge where it will be berthed next to the Intrepid aircraft carrier. The museum have plans to protect it from the elements, but if their track record is anything to go by, the aircraft could be in for a rough ride, as some of the aircraft on the actual carrier deck have seen better days. New York was seen as important to the success of Concorde within BA, and they feel strongly that one should go on display in the city.
  • On Oct 31st, Concorde G-BOAC is to be retired to the Manchester Airport viewing park. It will initially go on display next to the BAE Systems RJX100, currently the final ever passenger jet built in the UK. The airport have grand plans, that will see the aircraft put on display inside a purpose built facility.
  • G-BOAE will fly to Seattle (with a refuelling stop, possibly in Gander or Bangor, Maine) on November 3rd. It will go on display in one of the world’s leading aircraft museums– The Museum of Flight, which includes exhibits such as the worlds first ever Boeing 747 and a De Havilland Comet 4.
  • The most controversial decision appears to be to send Concorde G-BOAG to Barbados on Nov 10th. Although Barbados was important to the aircraft with its scheduled winter services, the island does not even have an aviation museum. A local businessman has offered to construct a facility at Grantley Adams Airport. With people going to Barbados to relax and enjoy the sun rather than going to see Concorde, the decision seems flawed, especially when there are a number of aviation museums or attractions in the UK that have missed out.
  • The world’s final ever Concorde flight will be on Nov 17th, when Concorde G-BOAF is retired to Filton. This Concorde, number 216, was the final ever Concorde built. It will initially be stored in the West Bay of the Brabazon hanger at the Airbus site, and will eventually go on display when the Bristol Aviation heritage museum opens. Plans are afoot to display the aircraft at the Bristol Aviation collection's new museum at Filton during the summer of 2004.

There are presently no plans for a heritage aircraft to fly at special flypasts or at airshows, although if a last minute deal was struck with Airbus, G-BOAG would likely carry out this role rather than going straight-away to Barbados.

The picture shows the proposed area next to the USS Intrepid where Concorde will go.


BAA puts up the shutters for Concorde viewing - 14/10/03

While other airports such as Manchester and Birmingham are going flat out to make sure anyone that wants to see Concorde can do so during its final week, BAA (the British Airport Authority that manages Heathrow airport) are actively discouraging people to come to Heathrow, although they will make a token gesture and up put a few temporary grandstands at the visitors centre.

Over the past few week the number of people coming to view Concorde has rocketed and now over 1000 people have been at the end of the runways to see the aircraft arrive and depart at weekends. BAA expect upwards of 100,000 for the 3 back-to-back landings on the final day as BA bid farewell to Concorde services.

BAA do understand people will come, but their main advice is leave the car at home and use public transport. The best advice would be to get the tube to Hatton Cross and walk to the North Runway where all Concorde operations will take place.

A small 1000 seat grandstand will be built at the visitors centre. You will need a free ticket for this. these are available by applying on line at www.baa.com/concorde from 6pm on Thursday the 16th. For those who cannot access the internet, there is a supporting phone number: 0800 496 0199. On Monday 20th, tickets will be randomly allocated and winners will be informed as soon as possible. There is no cost but you will be invited to make a contribution to the Heathrow Rotary Club, who will be collecting on the day.

At Heathrow the police are very inconsistent with their procedures, and it sadly varies from one officer to another, some will be fine and fully understand that everyone will leave pretty soon and therefore correctly let the public park up to watch the departure or arrival, while others will bring in the tow trucks from the word go. The advice can only be: if in doubt don't park up and leave your car as it could get towed and end up costing you £150 to get it back!

For more details on viewing around LHR and the other UK tour airports see the Viewing Concorde page in the retirement section.


Final trip to Washington for Concorde - 14/10/03

A British Airways Concorde has visited Washington for the last time as it wraps up the mini-tour of North American cities.

G-BOAG, commanded by Captain Paul Douglas, blasted off from Heathrow's 09R runway at 16:49 for a three and a half hour flight to Washington Dulles, landing at 15:15 local time. The normal subsonic flight time normally is near 8 hours ...

Concorde first visited Washington on 24th May 1976 when transatlantic services to Washington DC from London and Paris commenced. On that day, a British Airways and an Air France Concorde landed at Dulles nearly at the same time. Before landing, both aircraft simultaneously flew over the US capital and then made parallel approaches to Dulles Airport.

Both aircraft touched down together; the British Concorde landed on runway 01L and the French Concorde on runway 01R. Special permission had been given by US Secretary of Transportation, William Coleman, for these services to commence.

The French aircraft on that day, F-BVFA, has since been retired to the Smithsonian's new museum complex on the Dulles airport site.

The arrival of Alpha-Golf was greeted with a water cannon salute after landing at the International Airport. A special reception was held later the same day for regular customers of the airline.

"It is wonderful. I never thought I would ever do it, and I did it, and I'm just like a 7 years old child on Christmas Eve," white-haired Rita Woods of Colonial Beach, Virginia, said.

Similarly to the visits to Toronto and Boston, the aircraft will ferry to New York and operate a BA004 for the inbound leg.

More details of the three North American tour flights will be featured shortly on this website

The pictures show G-BOAG departing Heathrow and arriving at Dulles (Ian West)


Heathrow revise procedures for Concorde's final day - 20/10/03

After realising how many people are going to turn up to Heathrow on the final day, BAA, the airport operators, have revised their procedures for October 24th.

They want to emphasise that anyone coming to see Concorde MUST do so by public transport, as there is no additional car parking (unless you pretend to be a passenger!). Ideally if you do not have one of the 1000 grandstand tickets you should not come, but viewing from the ground around the perimeter roads and on final approach is adequate from anywhere ON FOOT around the perimeter road.

BAA Press release :

FRIDAY 24 OCTOBER: PUBLIC SAFETY AND TRAFFIC MEASURES

You might also have seen that barriers are being put along the roads around the airport. These measures are for public safety reasons.

We thought it would be useful for you to know what will be in place.

• There are no viewing facilities available in National/Alamo, Hertz, Europcar, Avis or public car parks along the perimeter roads - any unauthorised persons will be removed for their own safety.

• Anti-vision netting is being installed in these locations.

• Waiting on airport roads is not permitted and the police will tow away any vehicles illegally parked on the perimeter roads. Additional tow-away trucks will be in operation on the day

• All airport and local approach roads are likely to be congested. If flying from Heathrow allow extra time for your journey.

• The M4 & M25 near Heathrow are also likely to be very congested on the day.

• Some bus services are likely to be affected by any congestion but rail services should be unaffected.

Within the Airport
• The Eastchurch Road within the airport will be closed between 1400 and 1830.

• Access to the airport from the south at Hatton Cross will be restricted. Road diversions are likely to be in operation outside the airport at this point.
Western Perimeter Road and Terminal 5 area
• There are no parking areas or lay-bys along the Western Perimeter Road due to T5 construction.

• Footpaths on the Western Perimeter Road are non-existent due to the road diversion works in progress.

• Viewing from the Terminal 5 construction sites is unavailable and untrained / unauthorised persons will be removed for their own safety.


Farewell UK tour underway - 21/10/03

Thousands of people turned out to catch a last glimpse of Concorde as the supersonic jet touched down at the Birmingham and Belfast airports.

The plane, which is on its farewell tour of Britain, spent four hours at the airports before heading back to Heathrow. Airport officials estimate that 10,000 people gathered at each of the airports to see the plane at special visitor viewing points as well as on verges and lay-bys near the airports.

In Birmingham, before landing, the crowd cheered excitedly when the air traffic controllers offered to route Concorde, commanded by Les Brodie, over the airport at 2500ft and this was agreed to by the crew. The aircraft then flew over the city centre before circling into landing to be met by civic and business leaders from Birmingham and Solihull.

The dignitaries toured the aircraft and met the crew before she was refuelled and catered for the return flight which was commanded by pilot Andy Mills. On-board Concorde Alpha-Charlie were 66 competition winners, who were taken on a flight via the Bay of Biscay. Another 66 were on the return leg.

Alpha-Echo was on duty to carry out the same flight via the Bay of Biscay to Belfast, this time with Mike Bannister on the flight deck.

British Airways said it wanted as many people as possible to experience supersonic travel before Concorde retires on Friday.

Martin George, British Airways director of marketing, said: "This is the very last chance many people will have to see Concorde fly and we are delighted that it is visiting all the capital cities in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales."

"People on the ground can say their own personal goodbyes and, of course, those travelling as passengers on the last flights will have become part of history.''

Among those on board G-BOAE were a number of VIPs, corporate customers, invited guests, and the 20 Northern Ireland prizewinners in the British Airways Concorde competition.

All the airport tour stops have been congratulated by the public who turned out to wish Concorde farewell for their excellent organisation to ensure everyone got a good view of the aircraft. One Concorde regular commented that "it was a shame Heathrow airport had not taken a leaf out of Birmingham's book and make sure everyone was catered for, rather than turning people away and towing off their cars to the police pound."

This website will fully detail these flights soon on the BA tour page.


Museum decision delayed again - 22/10/03

As the farewell tour passed the halfway point, British Airways has again been forced to postpone its long-awaited announcement on the final homes for its Concorde fleet, after initially telling the media it would announce them this week, possibly on the 23rd or 24th.

The delay is understood to be caused by an ongoing legal wrangle with potential sites that will see the aircraft maintained by the museum, but owned by BA.

BA is still refusing to officially confirm any details surrounding the retirement plan for its fleet of seven Concordes.

Richard Goodfellow, a BA spokesman, said: "We have always wanted to announce all seven homes together - and that is still our intention. There are some complex legal issues involved with this, and therefore it is likely that the announcement will be made some time next week rather than this week as we had previously said."

It had been expected that Filton - where Concorde was designed, built and tested - would be named as one of the museum locations tomorrow or on Friday. However, that will now not happen until next week at the earliest, which could mean the date for its arrival at the north Bristol aerodrome could be pushed further towards the end of November.

But it is known that this latest setback has led to Airbus having to put on hold a number of plans it had in place for a high-profile celebration to mark the plane's homecoming.