Archive Story : 04-07-01

'Alpha Foxtrot' stretches her legs (...and engines)

In the run up to her first test flight G-BOAF underwent a 40-minute "taxi-ing" trial" at Heathrow Airport and "responded very well," her chief pilot, Mike Bannister, said.

Bannister was at the controls as Concorde travelled at up to 35mph on a 5 mile runout along Heathrow taxi ways the crew and engineers tested steering, brakiing and navigational computers on Alpha Foxtrot.

"The aircraft is in extremely good shape and responded very well to the tests," said Capt Bannister. He also paid tribute to the efforts of engineering staff for their work to get the aircraft into its present position.

BA said there would be detailed analysis of tonight's trial with the hope that a verification flight could be made as early as the beginning of next week, although BA has not given a date as yet. Alpha foxtrot would be used for this flight which would have Capt Bannister at the controls.

The aircraft would fly out on its normal London to New York route but turn back towards the UK after a little more than an hour and a hal so that the total time for the journey - at around three hours 20 minutes - was the same as for the London-New York run. The plane would then land not at Heathrow, but RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, where engineers would assess it.

It is possible that a second verification flight would then be made, with this time the supersonic plane returning to Heathrow.

The pictures show today's taxi tests and Capt. Mike Bannister with one of the Kevlar liners that have been fitted.