Sunday, January 21, 2007
On this day in 1976 the Concorde supersonic jet began passenger service with flights from London to Bahrain and Paris to Rio de Janeiro
The Concorde measured 204ft in length - stretching between six and ten inches in-flight due to heating of the airframe. She was painted in a specially developed white paint to accommodate these changes and to dissipate the heat generated by supersonic flight. The wingspan was 83ft 8ins - much less than conventional subsonic aircraft as the Concorde flied in a totally different way using "Vortex Lift" to achieve her exceptional performance. The height was 37ft 1ins. The characteristic droop nose was lowered to improve pilots' visibility for take-off and landing. Power Concorde's four engines - specially designed Rolls-Royce/ Snecma Olympus 593s - gave more than 38,000lbs of thrust each, with 'reheat'. This added fuel to the final stage of the engine to produce the extra power required for take-off and the transition to supersonic flight. They were the most powerful pure jet engines flying commercially. SpeedConcorde took off at 220 knots (250mph) (compared with 165 knots for most subsonic aircraft). She cruised at around 1350mph - more than twice the speed of sound - and at an altitude of up to 60,000 ft (over 11 miles high). A typical London to New York crossing would take a little less than three and a half hours as opposed to about eight hours for a subsonic flight. Travelling Westwards, the five-hour time difference meant Concorde effectively arrived before she left. She traveled "faster than the sun" . More than 2.5 million passengers have flown supersonically on British Airways' Concorde since she entered commercial service in 1976. The most frequent passenger, an oil company executive, clocked up almost 70 round trip transatlantic crossings a year.