Sometimes you just need to be found…

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.

More details on the Google Europe Blog..

If you are in the UK and have an android device this is working for you today !

Concorde 001 F-WTSS, Le Bourget, France

The first Concorde !

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 !

Paris, Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace




Concorde 213 F-BTSD, Le Bourget, France

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.

blueThe 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.

Paris, Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace

Concorde 102 F-WTSA, Paris ORY Airport, France

Concorde 102 F-WTSA was the second production airframe and therefore the fourth Concorde manufactured, flying for the first time in January 1973, in development terms it is the sister of Duxford’s Concorde 101 G-AXDN.



So a historically significant aircraft you would not expect to find parked between a Carrefour Supermarket Car Park and a tram line on the southern edge of Orly Airport. Sierra Alpha finds itself in this sad position as is was handed over to ADP the Operators of the Paris Airports on completion of its test programme in 1976 for display at the airport

In 1988  ADP decided that Concorde 102 was no longer a priority and condemned it to be scrapped. It was only due to the efforts of some local supporters lead by Roland Payen that the aircraft was saved and put on display by the Athis Aviation Society.

As a very much volunteer activity the aircraft is open for display only on Wednesdays and Saturdays between 4pm and 6pm.


Sierra Alpha stills carries the livery of both British Airways and Air France, the 70’s era schemes are rather attractive, but it’s current situation contrasts enormously with the two Concordes preserved  the Musée de l’air north of Paris.

Paris, ORY

Concorde 215 F-BVFF, Paris CDG Airport, France

Over the period of two days in Paris I visited four preserved Concordes displayed in rather contrasting ways. Foxtrot Foxtrot the last Concorde delivered to Air France in 1980, and is now displayed very prominently at Charles de Gaulle Airport.


At the time of the accident to Concorde 203 in 2000 Foxtrot Foxtrot was in the middle of D Check maintenance and as a result was never returned to service and today is actually only partially complete.  As a result this was one of the least used production Concorde’s only completing 12,420 flying hours.


Although not really in a location accommodating to visitors,  Foxtrot Foxtrot is just a few hundred metres for the Charles de Gaulle Terminal 1 RER station close to the Charles de Gaulle Hilton Hotel.

Paris, CDG

Concorde 209 F-BVFC, Toulouse France

Step out onto the tarmac area outside of the Aeroscopia Museum building through a rather nondescript door and there literally tens of metres away from Concorde 201 is Concorde 209 F-BVFC Foxtrot Charlie.

F-BVFC first flew in July 1976 from Toulouse, entering service with Air France the following month.

Foxtrot Charlie was marooned in New York for three months following the crash of Concorde 203 F-BTSC in July 2000.

The final flight for this aircraft occurred in June 2003 when it was ferried down from Paris Charles De Gaulle and handed over to it’s makers Aerospatiale now Airbus for preservation.  Over 30,000 people from the city of Toulouse turned out to see the aircraft arrive, and cheered test pilot André Turcat who was a passenger on the final flight.


In common with most of the Air France Fleet Foxtrot Charlie took part in a number of charters including two “round the world” fights, one of which in October 1993 was completed in 35 hours 20 minutes, including 17 hours 5 minutes at supersonic speed.

Around the world in less than 2 days !