Concorde was big technological achievement, aircraft made beyond its time, triumph of engineering craft. Success desired by all nations achieved thru European collaboration of Britain and France. However, economical failure not because of its huge development difficulties and costs as because of the staggering high cost of fuel, environmental opposition and inability to obtain permission to fly supersonically over land. Concluding that its withdrawal was a big step backward in an age of progress and speed.
History of aviation shows constant increase in speed. First turbo jets aircraft have cut journey times; New York was only twelve hours flying time away from London instead of the eighteen hours it took piston engine aircraft. In the 1960s, everyone in airline business assumed that supersonic commercial jets would be natural step forward. At the time, it was not foolish to believe such a forecast was realistic. In Britain lead in commercial jets vanished together with grounding of Comet. As the United States took a front in its development of Boeing 707 many in the European community felt, they have to go beyond conventional technology to surpass Americans. This essay will focus on development of Concorde and its struggle to enter commercial service, influenced by politicians and environmentalists.
Background to SST aircraft
The race between aircraft manufactures began during early 1950's a time of technological growth were speed was considered high priority and was evidence of stronger economy. The belief was that Supersonic aircraft would replace all other aircraft what would eventually become known as a supersonic transport (SST). In aviation, high-speed and altitude where the most desired progress where faster and higher was better. Research and design studies into supersonic flight at the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE), and comparable projects in France undertook fundamental examination since mid 1950s. To organize and advance these project studies a join government-industry board was formed in November 1956, called STAC (Supersonic Transport Aircraft Committee) under Morien Morgan (Sir Morien Morgan), a deputy director of the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) at Farnborough.
STAC began its research; to provide evidence that civil supersonic transport was commercially possible covering every aspect of SST design and operation.
A final report was released on 9 March 1959, suggesting development of a Mach 1.2 100-seat medium-range (1500 miles) SST and a Mach 1.8 150-seat long-range (3000 miles) variant. British government had announced that such a project would require cooperation with other country to share development costs. The Americans were planning a Mach 3 SST and were not attracted in BAC's (British Aircraft Corporation) slower design. Sud Aviation was the only one interested in BAC proposition. The first Anglo-French meeting was held at the June 1961 Paris Air Show. The development project was negotiated as an international treaty between the two countries rather than a commercial agreement between companies. An intergovernmental contract was signed on 29 November 1962. Finances were shared equally between the two governments, with the industry partners being BAC and Sud Aviation (later Aerospatiale) for the airframe and Bristol Siddeley (later Rolls-Royce) and SNECMA for the engines.
By 1967, 74 options from 16 airlines had been obtained, including Pan Am, TWA, United, Eastern, Air Canada and JAL (Japan Airlines). This optimistic start gave great confidence for the project, with possible 240 sales estimated by 1978. In December 1971, the first pre-production aircraft made its initial flight from Filton to Fairford. The first airlines to officially place firm orders were British Airways and Air France, who ordered nine aircraft on 28 July 1972.
Politics, Protest Groups and Noise Mitigation Strategies
The development of the Concorde after...