Concorde first took flight in 1976 crossing the Atlantic at almost twice the speed of sound and flying from London to New York in just over 3 hours.
Since the demise of the luxury Concorde service, there have been a number of plans to launch brand new supersonic jets to fly transatlantic including the Airbus supersonic jet and the supersonic business jet plans by Boston-based Spike Aerospace and Nevada-based company Aerion Corporation. But the most recent piece of supersonic news is that a group of Concorde fans may have raised enough money to get the iconic Concorde flying once more.
According to the Telegraph newspaper, “Club Concorde” has raised £120 million ($186 million) for its “return to flight” plan and expects to get one of the decommissioned aircraft back in the skies by 2019.
Club Concorde plan to buy a French Concorde and operate it as a private, heritage aircraft. According to the Club Concorde website “All restoration to flight costs would be borne by Club Concorde International who would also finance the construction of maintenance/display hangars at both the French and UK bases.”
After raising all this money, it seems likely that Club Concorde will need to involve the aircraft’s manufacturer (formerly British Aerospace-Aerospatiale, now Airbus). Without their support it is unlikely that Airbus will entrust the safe upkeep of its systems to a group of enthusiasts.
British Airways are not keen as Concorde is part of its image and it doesn’t want to hand over this iconic part of its history to Club Concorde. The French are equally unhappy. Their Musee de l’Air et de l’Espace issued a statement on Sunday saying its Concordes are as much a part of French heritage as the Mona Lisa or the Palace of Versailles, they aren’t for sale at any price and won’t fly again.
Given that the aircraft receives proper restoration, there shouldn’t be any issue getting the restored plane passed by the regulators. While the plane did have a dreadful crash with Air France it was actually taken out of service because it simply became uneconomic when the price of fuel rose. Concorde is unsurprisingly rather hungry on fuel. The aircraft itself remains in tip-top condition. British Airways once stripped one of their Concordes back to bare bones after years of service and found to be in perfect condition .
In terms of flight restrictions, any Concorde routing would be restricted by the nose it makes. The sonic boom in particular means that it will only be able to fly at supersonic speed over the oceans, in other words unpopulated areas. But it is believed that the Concorde could do well if it were used as part of a charter business. Both British Airways and Air France historically used it for charters and there are plenty of enthusiasts who will pay good money for a round the world trip on a Concorde. If this plan for Concorde does get off the ground (excuse the pun), these flights could well form a very feasible and business plan. Certainly, many luxury hoteliers including the Four Seasons Private Jet have found around the world trips to be a lucrative addition to their portfolio.
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