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& # 8211 ; Success Or Failure? Essay, Research Paper

Concorde 1


The Concorde & # 8211 ; Success or Otherwise?

Steven B. McSwain

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

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The Concorde, a joint British-French venture that began every bit early as 1956, has been described as everything from an economic catastrophe to a modern wonder. Key British determination shapers viewed supersonic air transit as a necessity to stay at the forepart in the race among industrial age states, every bit good as being able to maintain face with the Americans who had leapt to a apparently unsurmountable lead in the air bearer industry. Through four Prime Ministers and assorted Parliamentary leaders, the Concorde managed to last sceptics and travel into joint production with the aid of authorities subsidising and really secret research into development, production, and operation costs. To this twenty-four hours that study remains a secret within the United Kingdom, but many have done their ain research into these subjects. What they have found leads one to believe that the Concorde is non rather the success, economically talking, that British Air passages and Air France would hold the universe to believe.

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Concorde & # 8211 ; Success or Otherwise?

In July of 2000, the Concorde suffered its first fatal accident in the 30 plus twelvemonth history of its being. With this clang came the expected inquiries of the aircraft & # 8217 ; s dependability and safety record, which were found to be unusually good as compared to industry criterions. Besides coming into inquiry is the necessity of supersonic conveyance, which leads to the universe inquiring merely how good this aircraft is. Is it safe ; is it economically sound ; is it worth the costs and hazards involved? I will try to reply these inquiries every bit objectively as possible, concentrating on the success or failure of the plan in the United Kingdom.


By 1959, the British authorities considered supersonic conveyance a confirmed rule and began probe into production and undertaking development. From 1960-1962, the British and Gallic authoritiess discussed a joint supersonic conveyance venture, taking to a pact signed between the two for joint design, development, and production. Besides during this clip, the USSR began research into developing their ain theoretical account of a supersonic conveyance, jestingly referred to by the outside universe as the & # 8220 ; Konkordski & # 8221 ; . The United States was besides compelled to come in the supersonic conveyance race for the same grounds the Gallic and British did. These grounds could wholly be traced back to national pride. The Americans were torn over the topic, with the bulk taking a definite pro- or anti- place. President John F. Kennedy even told the graduating category of the Air Force Academy in 1963 that the state would be committed to the supersonic conveyance & # 8217 ; s development: & # 8220 ; This committedness, I believe, is indispensable to a strong and advanced State, and indicates the hereafter of manned aircraft as we move into a missile age every bit good & # 8221 ; ( US State Department, 2001 ) . This prognostication, of kinds, would turn out to be untrue, as the supersonic conveyance ( SST ) would non be pursued by the United States, due mostly to economic

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grounds. The Gallic and British, nevertheless, would evidently travel on to develop the Concorde through the 1960 & # 8217 ; s and early 1970 & # 8217 ; s, with the first aircraft come ining service in 1976. These aircraft are no uncertainty a technological wonder. Supersonic rider conveyance is a testament to the rapid gait of human technology find. Though the specific Numberss and figures are obscure, nevertheless, it is universally agreed upon that the Concorde is an economic catastrophe. No affair how much gross the Concorde generates, it will ne’er be able to refund what it cost to develop and bring forth.

Program Development

For my intents here, the SST development began in 1956. That November the Supersonic Transport Aircraft Committee ( STAC ) was established. The intent of this group was to piece a group of authorities functionaries and British aircraft and engine makers to get down the argument over the subject. Through old research into the SST, the people at Farnborough ( location of the STAC ) had discovered merely petroleum and & # 8220 ; silly & # 8221 ; aircraft ( Gillman, 1977 ) . However, through the aid of German aerodynamicist Dietrich Kuchemann, it was deemed some clip in 1957 that it would so be possible to construct the SST.

Not surprisingly, the STAC produced its study in 1959 stating that the SST was a really existent possibility and that research and development should travel on. This could be considered as the beginning of resistance to the plan. Though the STAC officially recommended the SST development, there were surely persons who opposed it vehemently. One of the most blazing jobs was the blue economic mentality. It was estimated at the clip, by the STAC, that cost would run from $ 165 million to $ 266 million. This cost, even if the $ 266 million figure is assumed, is off by a factor of about 15. The British authorities & # 8217 ; s estimation in 1977 of entire shared cost for the plan was merely under $ 1.7 billion. With considerations given to production costs and losingss taken by

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British Airways and Air France, that figure shoots to over $ 2.1 billion ( Gillman, 1977 ) . Government functionaries began to see the resistance turning. Those who favored the undertaking scrambled for an economic spouse to maintain it alive. Those who opposed long for the plan to be made public, seeing certain licking due to political force per unit area.

The friends to the Concorde got their want in 1962 when Gallic President Charles de Gaulle pleaded with the British for a concerted SST development. In November of that same twelvemonth, the pact was signed by the Gallic and British to co-develop the SST, supplying that both states & # 8220 ; must in all facets of the undertaking make an equal part sing both the costs to be taken on and the work to be carried out, and to portion every bit returns from gross revenues & # 8221 ; ( Hamilton, 2000 ) .

The undertaking would be carried out by four companies, two each for the airframe and engine. British Aircraft Corporation, or BAE ( British ) and Sud Aviation ( France ) would be responsible for the airframe. Bristol Siddeley and SNECMA ( British and Gallic, severally ) would manage the development of the Olympus 593 engine. With the pact signed and both states eager to get down development and production, the undertaking hit its first snag. Following the general election in 1964, the new Labor Party announced in November that Britain would retreat from the SST undertaking. In January of 1965, nevertheless, this statement was retracted and the plan was one time once more under manner.

The Concorde continued to confront hardship throughout development. What was thought of as a Mach 2 aircraft capable of London to New York travel with 150 riders was fast become an aircraft that could make merely beyond Mach with 130 riders. And would fall about 200 stat mis abruptly of New Yor
k. Then 100 riders. Or 80, depending on the Atlantic headwinds. Or 70, depending on the heat when going out of Bahrain. Logistic incubuss were non
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the lone job. With every weight accommodation and airframe redesign, there seemed to be an engine redesign. With each engine redesign came an addition in noise. Coincidentally, the eco-movement was in full swing, and the progressively rigorous noise Torahs were seting a stronger and stronger stranglehold on the SST plan.

The embattled plan is non without its achievements, nevertheless. Just the fact that the plan survived and supersonic travel is available to the populace is considered a wonder in itself. The first trial flight of the Concorde took topographic point on March 2nd of 1969, with it being a 28 minute successful flight. On the Concorde & # 8217 ; s 45th trial flight, the plan called for Mach velocity flight. During 1969, the universe would see Concorde do its inaugural trial flight, foremost Mach flight, and first dark landing, all successfully. With these efforts, the economic state of affairs of the plan seemed to take a back place to the admiration and astonishment of the aircraft.

In January of 1976, the Concorde set off on her inaugural flights. British Airways sent a Concorde to Bahrain, and Air France & # 8217 ; s version made the trip to Rio. With the economic state of affairs and environmental issues looming over the caput of the Concorde, this twenty-four hours of glorification would non be denied. The British imperativeness praised the event, with Air Commodore E.M. Donaldson of the Daily Telegraph stating, & # 8220 ; This without uncertainty must be the greatest leap forward in air travel the universe has of all time known & # 8221 ; ( Gillman, 1977 ) . Most sentiments followed this, with a few obvious exclusions, such as the quotation mark from Herb Coleman, London editor of Aviation Week: & # 8220 ; he seats are really comfy, up to first category forward. But it & # 8217 ; s less equal if you want to around. If you & # 8217 ; rheniums used to wide-bodied planes Concorde & # 8217 ; s cabin tends to shut around you & # 8212 ; it & # 8217 ; s like being back in Constellation yearss. There & # 8217 ; s a high noise degree although non plenty to suppress conversation. Apart from that it & # 8217 ; s merely another aircraft every bit far as I & # 8217 ; m concerned & # 8221 ; ( Gillman, 1977 ) . Thought these sentiments were echoed by many, I presume, the overpowering reaction was positive. The pro-Concorde batch eventually had their twenty-four hours in the Sun.

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The twelvemonth of 1976 would non go on to be the top of the Concorde narrative. In March of that twelvemonth, the New York and New Jersey port governments banned the Concorde from come ining. This would set a serious bind on planned Concorde operations, as the path from London to New York was a impulsive factor since the late 1950 & # 8217 ; s. On the other manus, permission was non merely granted by U.S transit Secretary William Coleman for Concorde flights into Washington, D.C. , he granted them in manner. The first reaching of the Concorde in Washington was a flight of two, one French and one British, with a coincident attack and touchdown on parallel tracks.

1977 would turn out to be a slightly better twelvemonth overall, as the Concorde reached its first twelvemonth in service. In that twelvemonth, she carried over 45,000 revenue-generating riders and traveled over 3.5 million stat mis. In February, the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board granted permission for overland flight from Washington to Dallas. Besides, and perchance the most of import, the Concorde was allowed to run into New York in November, after months of proving and long holds due to protests. However, the pendulum ever swings both ways, and Malaysia banned the Concorde from operation at that place after merely three flights.

The Concorde was now a pillar in civil air power, but had become anything but ordinary. It still drew crowds on reaching at airdromes around the universe, because of the aircraft itself and the desire to see merely who was going onboard. After the initial & # 8220 ; honeymoon & # 8221 ; was over, the critics continued. The inquiry now turned to safety, but was answered clip and clip once more by successful, safe flights even when jobs arose. Three times the Concorde suffered rudder failure in flight before it was replaced throughout the fleet. Each clip, the flight ended without incident. In 1994, an aircraft suffered three outer windowpanes shattering in flight at over 55,000 pess. There was no loss of pressurization, and the flight continued without incident to its

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finish. The Concorde was fast deriving the repute as the safest air travel option, if non the most expensive. This tendency would go on until July of 2000, when the plan would endure its first lost aircraft in over 30 old ages of operation. Air France Concorde 203 crashed after takeoff from Paris, killing all 109 people on board and three on the land. The Concorde has been grounded and has non been returned to winging position as of this day of the month.


Though noise could turn out to be the Achilles & # 8217 ; heel of the Concorde, there were other jobs as good. One that sometimes goes unnoticed is the presence of such great outlooks of the plan. A fleet of 200-300 was proposed in the beginning. As of 1977, the British authorities considered 100 to be excessively optimistic. With merely 20 produced, and no more slated to be, the initial figures were evidently manner off the grade. Combined with the horribly miscalculated production and development costs, this points straight at arrant economic failure. The inquiry the success or failure of the Concorde, I believe, is still non answered even after 30 old ages. The current fleet is slated for operation until 2010 by most histories. This alone could be considered grounds of success ; an aircraft in operation for this sum of clip, while defying the emphasiss of supersonic flight. However, the Concorde is a commercial aeroplane. That is, it was designed for concern intents and concern are in topographic point to do a net income. The Concorde has yet to net income and shows no hope of bring forthing one by 2010. The lone Jesus of the plan has been authorities subsidies accounting for the losingss of British Airways, numbering some $ 36.5 million yearly. That being said, my decision is that success or failure finally depends on what topic is in treatment. If it is in respects to technological progress and any testament to aerospace technology and aircraft development & # 8211 ; so the Concorde has been a complete success. However, in exclusive footings of economic sciences, the plan has been a blue failure.

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United States State Department, ( 2001 ) . Foreign Relations of the United States 1964-1968, Volume XXXIV Energy, Diplomacy, and Global Issues. Available online at hypertext transfer protocol: //

Gillman, Peter ( 1977 ) . Supersonic Bust, The Atlantic. Available online at hypertext transfer protocol: //

Hamilton, Paul ( 2000 ) . Personal web site, The Concorde. Available at hypertext transfer protocol: //


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