A side trip on the way home from the FOSS4G Conference in Bonn and from one extreme to the other…
Poor old Concorde 208, abandoned in a disused staff car park a Heathrow, while 207 is perched majestically on the roof of the wonderful Auto Technik Museum alongside one of the rarest of all aircraft the Tupolev Tu-144 “Concordski’.
Concorde 207 F-BVFB was one of the least utilised aircraft, having flown only 14,771 hours, indeed Foxtrot Bravo spent nearly seven years in storage with Air France. However the aircraft did play an important role as the test aircraft for the modifications made to the fleet in 2001.
In June 2003 Foxtrot Bravo was flown for the last time to Baden Baden and disassembled and taken by road to Sinsheim. Although displayed at a spectacular angle on the roof of the museum it is possible to tour the aircraft entering through the rear baggage compartment door via a spiral staircase.
Sinsheim offers the unique opportunity to compare the world’s two commercial supersonic transport aircraft. It is noticeable that the Tu-144 is larger this is most obvious from within the passenger cabin which is much less cramped than Concorde. As is often the case with Soviet era aircraft the Tu-144 feels well-built and rugged with a massive undercarriage and a large cockpit painted in that Green colour so iconic of Russian Aircraft even today. For more pictures see the album here.
Seeing such an amazing aircraft displayed so well just reinforces my indignation of Heathrow Airports treatment of Concorde 208 !
If aircraft had feelings…. Alpha Bravo would be pissed off !
While other Concorde aircraft are preserved in specially designed hangars and have become tourist attractions Alpha Bravo the third Concorde to be delivered to British Airways is parked in a disused car park at Heathrow Airport only really visible to departing passengers on Runway 27L.
Following the Paris Crash of F-BTSC in July 2000, Alpha Bravo made its final flight back to Heathrow from New York on August 15th just hours before the types Certificate of Airworthiness was temporarily withdrawn. Alpha Bravo was subsequently not modified along with the other British Airways in 2001 and never returned to service.
Since 2000 then Alpha Bravo has skulked around Heathrow, plans to properly display the Aircraft at Terminal 5 (much like the Concorde at Paris CGG) never materialised.
In 2004 British Airways donated the aircraft to BAA the owners of Heathrow Airport, but it seems that Heathrow have no interest in displaying the aircraft. Rumours of the aircraft’s poor condition and outlandish plans of moves to Dubai or a barge on the Thames or even return the aircraft to flight have come and gone over the past few years, while Alpha Bravo sits unloved in a car park.
Alpha Bravo’s current location is not really accessible, I took this photo below from a BA staff Car Park, but clearly this is not recommended and may attract the attention of Heathrow’s charming Police Constables (no really they are very professional !)
The current state of Alpha Bravo is in my view a disgrace which reflects poorly on both Heathrow Airport and British Airways, although to their credit they have recently carried out some minor maintenance to the airframe.
13th September 1970, as a child growing up in South London, airliners approaching Heathrow Airport were even present, but something I largely ignored but not today… for the first time the British Concorde prototype 002, G-BSST was landing at Heathrow and as a five year old I thought my house was about to fall down, the result of a noise louder than thunder which seemed to go on for minutes.
This is may well be my earliest memory !
Concorde 002 had flown for the first time the in April the year previously, a few weeks after the french prototype. In the hands of the legendary test pilot Brian Trubshaw 002 spend most of its life at RAF Fairford, as was typical of the British Aircraft industry the runway at Filton where all British Concordes were built was not long enough for flight testing!
After a total of 438 test flights 002 was presented to the Science Museum in July 1976 following its delivery to the Fleet Air Arm Museum in Yeovilton where it has been on display even since.
As with Concorde 001 at Le Bourget it is possible to walk though the aircraft noting the vast amount of test equipment common to both prototypes, and you get a great view of the “Buck Rogers” style visor unique to them.
Remember in Thunderbirds where John Tracey would always be looking out for people in distress from his satellite Thunderbird 5 ? He never seemed to have to ask people where they were…
Something I have been working with the Android team on for the last few months is the Emergency Location Service, a feature on android phones that when supported by your network, sends a more accurate location from your phone to emergency services when you dial an emergency number.
To do this same location technologies available to apps on your phone, including Wi-Fi, GPS, and cell towers is used, to produce a more reliable emergency location both indoors and outdoors. Up until now in Europe only cell tower information has been used.
Testing in the UK has produced a order of magnitude improvement in the location accuracy made available to the emergency services.
What an amazing year 1969 must have been, I’m too young (yes really) to remember it, but the year features two amazing technological achievements, in July Armstrong and Aldrin became the first men on the moon and a few months earlier on the 2nd of March Andre Turcat performed the first flight of this aircraft, the prototype Concorde 001.
Many describe the development of Concorde as Europe’s Apollo programme in terms of cost and complexity, it was important enough to be covered live on television by the legendary Raymond Baxter. (As a sidenote – compare the knowledgeable and quite technical commentary provided by Baxter a ex-spitfire pilot with today’s so-called aviation experts on TV)
The prototypes are noticeably different to the later pre-Production (101,102), Development (201-201) and Production aircraft (203-216) in having a different wing shape, air intakes, nose and tail design. Most obvious I alway think is the “Buck Rogers” style visor design.
Concorde 001 went on to break the sound barrier in October and Mach 2 the following November.
As you would expect Concorde 001 is a well maintained and presented aircraft on display in the Hall of Concordes at Le Bourget’s Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace alongside Concorde 213 F-BTSD.
As part of the display this is an interesting exhibit documenting the role Concorde 001 undertook to monitor a solar eclipse in 1973. Flying at the maximum possible speed of Mach 2.05 along a great circle route the scientists were able to view the total eclipse for 74 minutes. There is a great simulation of the flightpath at this site.
Concorde 001 was retired on arrival to the museum in October 1973, having made 397 flights covering 812 hours, of which 255 hours were at supersonic speeds.
Entry to both Concordes costs €9 and is well worth it, the interior of 001 in particular is very evocative for a test aircraft 40 years old !
Sierra Delta, Concorde 213 shares the Hall of Concordes at the Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace with Concorde 001 F-WTSS . During it’s service with Air France it entered the record books holding records for the fastest round the world flights in both directions . Each flight took around 32 hours, including six refueling stops !
Sierra Delta also holds the dubious honour of being painted in a “Pepsi” Livery for 2 weeks during 1996 as part of a major rebranding exercise by the soft drinks company.
The aircraft would have to be painted blue to match the new Pepsi branding requiring much discussion between Air France and Aerospatiale as Concorde was only certified for a white livery. The “Blue Concorde” was unveiled at an event at Gatwick Airport in April 1996, in the presence of Claudia Schiffer, Andre Agassi, Cindy Crawford, and hundreds of invited journalists. For the next two weeks Sierra Delta undertook a promotional tour around Europe and the Middle East, before returning to it’s normal Air France livery.
Sierra Delta undertook it’s last passenger flight in May 2003 and was transferred to Musée de l’Air in June.
On display with it’s final Air France interior which seems rather clinical compared to the lovely Conran designed blue Connolly leather seats found on British Airways, it’s still a glamorous aircraft.