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Concorde

The first supersonic airliner Concorde began transatlantic flights from London to New York on 24 May 1976.

The new aircraft reduced the flight time to three and a half hours, having a maximum speed of 2.2 times the speed of sound, a cruising speed of 1,350 miles per hour (2,160 kilometres per hour), and a maximum range of 4,000 miles (6,400 kilometres).

The plane flew at a cruising altitude of 60,000 feet – over 11 miles (18.3 km) high.

Concorde was built by the British Aircraft Corporation and Aerospatiale of France. Developed jointly by Britain and France, there had been an argument over whether or not the aircraft’s name should have a final French ‘e’.

After an impasse had been reached about the spelling, Tony Benn took a ministerial decision to adopt the French spelling as a gesture of goodwill.

The aircraft had to be painted white with few other colours due to the skin temperature – which reached 127 degrees Celsius (260 degrees Fahrenheit) at Mach 2. The 203 foot-long aircraft also stretched 6 to 10 inches in flight due to the heating of the airframe.

Concorde carried its own weight in fuel (95 tonnes) and burned the same amount of fuel per hour on approach to land as it did when flying at Mach 2.

Concorde’s fastest London/New York crossing was on 7 February 1996 and took 2 hours 52 minutes and 59 seconds.

The aircraft led the supersonic aircraft industry until 1996, when the Russians launched another version they claimed was faster than Concorde.

The sonic boom was the major factor that prevented Concorde from ever being developed beyond an expensive experimental aircraft.

By the time an Air France Concorde crashed in 2000 in a disastrous encounter with runway debris after taking off from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, the plane was already having to deal with daunting ageing-aircraft issues as most Concordes by then were approaching 30 years old.

In the end, without a commercial successor in sight, Air France and British Airways decided to ground them in 2003.

Length: 203ft 9in (62.1m)
Height: 37ft 1in (11.3m)
Fuselage Width: 9ft 6in (2.9m)
Wingspan: 83ft 8in (25.5m)
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