The Concorde

On November 5. 1956. the British had their first meeting of the Supersonic Transport Aircraft Committee, or STAC. The members had concluded that the U S. Boeing 707 and Douglas DC – 8 would capture so much of the subsonic market for commercial aircraft that the only options available to them were to go above the speed of sound or to give up the market J4|. It may have been better strategy to remain with subsonic aircraft, although die Concorde program did much to bring Britain into the Luropean community.

In March 1959 STAC urged the controller of aircraft in the Ministry of Supply to con­sider the development of a supersonic transport, estimating a market of 125-175 aircraft. The British then approached the French about a joint program, with one goal being their eventual admission to the European Common Market, then dominated by France. Later there were repeated attempts by Britain to cancel the Concorde Then President de Gaulle stood by the simple, irrevocable, two page treaty between the United Kingdom and the French Republic, entered intoon November 29. 1963 |4). |5).

Commercial flight operations began twenty years ago in January, 1976. with Bnush

Airways alien BOAC) flying between London and Bahrain, and Air France operating between Pans and Rio de Janeiro |6|. In a carefully considered (and in retrospect, enormously wise) decision. Secretary of Transportation William T. Coleman, on February 4. 1976. permitted lim­ited scheduled flights of the Concorde into the United States, initially for a trial penod of 16 months (SJ. Two flights per day for each carrier were to be allowed into Kennedy, and one flight per day for each earner was to be allowed into Dulles. Because the FAA operated Dulles, there was no difficulty in obtaining permission to operate there, and commercial service began at Dulles on May 24. 1976. The New York Port Authority banned such flights in March 1976. but this ban was overturned in court and commercial operations began there on November 27. 1977.

To my knowledge there have been no lasting complaints of concern about Concorde operations in selected U S. airports. But one must presume that for an economically successful SST. the fleet зілс will not be small, and with this increased SST traffic, it may be necessary to adhere to the latest airport noise level regulations for subsonic aircraft. Perhaps some modest deviations for SSTs will be allowed.

Perhaps the golden age of the Concorde was in 1987 and 1988 when over 60,000 pas­sengers were transported by each airline, more than 40.000 of those in a destination market w ith load factors just over 60*T. In January’. 1993. Air and Cosnun/Avtation Magazine wrote. "Since 1989-1990 the situation has declined to the point of Air France not even reaching 40.000 total passengers last year. And the results for the first trimester of 1993 do not indicate a substantial increase….*’ (3].

Important national goals were achieved by the Concorde program Perhaps the most important was the development of a successful European community aircraft consortium. It is unknown, and not knowable. whether the joint Bntish-Frcnch venture to develop the Concorde was the best or the only route to this end. It was achieved, however, and this must be attributed, at least in part, to this joint venture The French also gamed a considerable technological advance in their aircraft. Together, they proved the reliability and safely of public transport at supersonic speeds. The program s cost, through March 1976. was put at between 1.5 and 2.1 bil­lion in 1976 pounds sterling, or between 3.6 and 5.1 billion in 1977 U S. dollars (yearly weighted exchange rates) (7).

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