Today, Saturday 2 March 2019, marks the 50th anniversary since Concorde’s first flight.
The French prototype Concorde 001 completed its maiden flight in Toulouse on 2 March 1969. The flight was crewed by flight Captain Andre Turcat, co-pilot Jacques Guignard, flight engineer Michel Retif and mechanical engineer Henri Perrier. On its first flight the aircraft was limited to flying at 250 knots and 10,000 ft.
The British prototype Concorde 002 completed its first flight on 9 April 1969. Piloted by Brian Trubshaw and co-pilot John Cochrane, the aircraft flew from Bristol Fulton airport to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire. London received its first sighting of the aircraft two months later when it flew over Central London on the Queen’s official birthday.
The history of Concorde is of course well documented. Events are taking place at a number of sites today to mark the anniversary. Aerospace Bristol will also be holding events throughout the year.
Aviation has always attracted dreamers and it would remiss to not encourage progress. However, we live in industry where efficiency and discipline, in good times and bad, rules.
Even if a new aircraft was to come to fruition it is unlikely that the major airline groups would be prepared to buy it. Nor would major corporate clients be willing to give the revenue guarantees it would require to be profitable. The era of overt corporate largesse is over.
The future is, sadly, not speed, but flying as efficiently as possible for both the airlines and those paying for the tickets.
For day flights, speed is less important with in-flight connectivity. For night flights, whilst some way short of your own bedroom, there are of course reasonably comfortable flat beds in business class.
Progress will be linking new city pairs that were previously not feasible either due to aircraft efficiency or distance. For the next innovation, all eyes are on Qantas to see whether it will order aircraft capable of flying from London to Melbourne and Sydney non-stop.