Preparations are continuing at London's Heathrow airport for the first flight of a Concorde with the new modifications fitted. British Airways Concorde G-BOAF ('Alpha-Foxtrot') is expected to take to the air later on this week or very early next week for a 3hr 20 min test flight. The flight will depart from Heathrow but terminate at RAF Brize Norton.
Concorde is likely to leave Heathrow fitted with itsnew Michlin tyres. Once on the ground at Brize Norton, Concorde will undergo tests with the new NZG (Near Zero Growth) Michelin tyres. High speed taxi and flight test are then expected to be carried out on the new rubber which will be monitored by the tyre and aircraft manufacturers along with representatives from the CAA and British Airways.
The flight is expected to be Crewed by British Airways chief Concorde Pilot Mike Bannister along with the UK Civil Aviation Authorities (CAA) chief test pilot Captain Jock Reid. The flight will take place under CAA 'B' conditions. A 'B' condition is a flight of an aircraft that presently does not have a Certificate of Airworthiness. The flight will be flown under the auspices of the manufactures, in this case BAE systems and EADS, and not the airline as they can't technically fly the aircraft without its C of A.
As BAE systems do not now have any Concorde rated pilots Capt Reid will be a member of the crew representing Airbus UK. As the CAA's regular Concorde pilot through his work in taking part in the normal C of A checks at set intervals during normal operating conditions and regular flights with British Airways he is the natural choice for this flight.
There is a yet no date as to when the C of A could be returned but if the test go well this could be in the very near future. The C of A would only be valid for aircraft with the correct modifications. As soon as the C of A is retuned for 'Alpha-Foxtrot' is expected that the aircraft will be used extensively for crew training as there are no British Airways flight crew current on the type. British Airways currently favours Shannon, Ireland and France for flight training, although Prestwick in Scotland has also been regularly used in the past.
The pictures show G-BOAF duirng recent movements at the BA base at Heathrow. Click on the picture for a full size version
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