After 4 months of near flawless operations both Air France and British Airways have confirmed that they will both operate a daily service to New York from Paris and London over the coming months.
In a further boost to passengers British Airways will move the timing of the popular BA002 from New York to London to an 8:30am EST departure from New York allowing a tea-time arrival in London at the regular time of around 17:00 from April 1st. To accomplish this BA will place an aircraft overnight at New York that will depart around the same time the inbound aircraft arrives. The additional benefit of this is that should a serious problem arise on the aircraft designated for the BA002 the inbound aircraft after being re-serviced can carry out the service with only a minimum delay.
Air France will move from 5 services a week to a full 7 day service when they recommence flights on Tuesdays and Saturdays from June 1st, While BA will re-instate the Saturday BA001/002 service from April 16th when the Winter schedule to Barbados comes to an end.
British Airways are progressing on the work to bring Concorde G-BOAC up to the new flight standards set out last summer by the Aviation authorities. The 5th Aircraft will give British Airways the flexibility to complete the regular maintenance checks that are required on the Concorde fleet. G-BOAC is scheduled to return to service in May or June.
As soon as "Alpha Charlie" has been returned to flight status, G-BOAG is scheduled for a regular 3 month intermediate check. After the completion of this check G-BOAB is expected to undergo its Inter check followed by the fitting of the return to flight modifications and the new interiors. Aviation sources have also suggested that G-BOAB will be used to test fit the new toilets and other equipment that are part of the full cabin upgrade such as new galleys and active lighting. Work on G-BOAB is expected to be complete in early 2003, which will allow the re-start of the BA003/004 services - the 2nd daily London-New York flights.
Air France are expected to decide to begin the major D check on F-BVFF in Mid April. Air France's Load factors have been very good since November and their 5th aircraft will be needed when the others require intermediate checks in the coming years. 'Fox Fox' is also the aircraft in the Air France fleet with the least flight hours (around 12,000) so can replace 'Fox Alpha' when that aircraft gets to the end of its certified life span.
Recently a British Airways Concorde suffered an aborted take off due to an avionics computer problem. British Airways eventually substituted the standby aircraft and the service still arrived in New York long before a subsonic aircraft flying the same route. Certain UK press organizations, as usual, blew the event out of all proportion, but Jeremy Clarkson in the UK's Sunday Times told the correct story in an article about his first Concorde trip:
" The newspapers reported this week that Graham Norton was on board when one of the plane's mighty Olympus engines developed a fault at the moment of take-off. We were led to believe that the plane had swerved on the runway as the pilot desperately sought to save the life of Britain's best-loved chat show host. "
" I had a drink with Graham last night and his view of events was slightly different. He said the Concorde was doing about 4mph when the engine went wrong and that a small dog could have brought it safely to a halt. He also said the staff were wonderful and that after a short wait everyone was put on another Concorde which worked perfectly. "
Air France Picture by Philippe Noret / Concorde Lovers