Concorde a design classic

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British Airways Concorde
British Airways Concorde

Concorde was developed jointly by British Airways and Air France. Concorde was the first and remained the only supersonic civilian aircraft to be put into commercial service. Designing an aeroplane that could propel passengers at speeds exceeding that of sound involved surmounting thousands of individual technological and physical problems and resulted in a machine that looked more like a military aircraft than a civilian one.

Design Notes

Concorde has a novel shape, consisting of a needle-shaped nose and a “delta wing”, both responses to the aerodynamic problems of flight at such high speeds. The distinctive wing shape combines excellent length and a minimum relative thickness which is well suited to supersonic flight and the lower speeds for take-off and landing. It also contributes outstanding structural rigidity to the slim fuselage. It allows Concorde to be the only commercial aircraft that does not require stabilizing rudders. The long, pointed nose assures maximum air penetration. Concorde is at a much more pronounced angle to the ground during take-off and landing than other aircraft. To provide greater visibility for the pilot, the nose can be lowered independently of the rest of the craft.

The first test flights of the British and French prototypes began in 1969. Still, it was not until 1976 that commercial flights were introduced in 1972. American study suggested that Concorde would have a lifespan of no longer than seven years due to the stress caused to the fuselage by dramatic variations in temperature.

25th July 2000 Air Crash

On 25 July 2000, Air France Flight 4590, registration F-BTSC, crashed in Gonesse, France, after departing from Charles de Gaulle Airport en route to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, killing all 100 passengers and nine crew members on board as well as four people on the ground. It was the only fatal accident involving Concorde. This crash also damaged Concorde’s reputation and caused both British Airways and Air France to temporarily ground their fleets until modifications that involved strengthening the affected areas of the aircraft.

Sources

McDermott, C. (2011). Modern design: Classics of our time. Carlton Books.

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