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Concorde - A sucess?

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posted on Jan, 16 2008 @ 04:57 AM
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A recent exchange on the Blackbird thread reminded me of the divide of opinion on Concorde that exists on ATS and I wonder if it might be possible to examine the reasons behind this split, both on the technical and emotional side?

I am in the camp that thinks Concorde was an amazing success. I will go even further though and declare that I find it possibly the most impressive aircraft ever built and this thread is borne of my own failure to understand why everyone else doesn't feel the same


leaving technical considerations aside for now, the emotive argument is that as I am British I am bound by patriotism to stick up for it. But this does not hold water when you consider that the plane was half the responsibility of those despicable Frenchies (playing up to national stereotypes) so the awe in which I still hold the plane MUST show how impressive it really was, no?

Conversely there is a view that most of those who consider Concorde a failure/waste of time are Americans and therefore obviously this view is nothing more than jealousy because they couldn't do it


Thats the childish bit out of the way, if not for the last time.

Could it be that people who are unimpressed by it are unaware that it actually made perfect commercial sense until 4 years after it flew and cannot grasp why the thing was even started? Or maybe they don't see why making a mach 2 passenger plane is so much harder than bulding a bomber or fighter and that is why they don't see what all the fuss was about?

If any of these questions can be answered it would make for a great discussion and hopefully new ones could be raised as well.




posted on Jan, 16 2008 @ 05:07 AM
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It's a shame that after the loss of only one aircraft confidence in Concorde was so low that it was abandoned - guess you can only loose a few beautiful people in a tragic accident before the plug is pulled.

I don't think the whole project ever actually turned a profit, so that can't of helped - but as a technical achievement it was first rate, it will forever be known to all even if their interest in aircraft is basic. I can remember seeing it fly over where I used to live as a kid, and I could pick up transmissions on my airband radio that used the handle speedbird, my dad would always say that was Concord ~ I don't know for sure but still good memory's.



posted on Jan, 16 2008 @ 05:20 AM
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reply to post by Now_Then
 


The end of Concordes life is quite controversial, BA had always had better utilisation and were firmly against both the grounding and the eventual withdrawal, the French position was quite different though and eventually the inevitable had to happen, 26 years is a long time for an airframe that sustained cruise at mach 2 rather than just in short dashes so the airframe life has to be a concern.

If you take the programme costs as a whole then no, it never did make a profit, but the plane was at least operationally profitable and the overall loss can be directly attributed to the fuel crisis that completely erased Concordes market in 1973. An accident of history rather that a flaw in the programme.



posted on Jan, 16 2008 @ 05:10 PM
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There's not many planes that can crusie all the way across the atlantic at mach 2.
I was lucky enough to see it fly right over my head shortly after take off, a couple years before it stopped flying. I could feel the power of it, it was amazing and a beautiful sight.

My bias would be the same as waynos, it will be interesting to hear from those who won't have the same bias.



posted on Jan, 16 2008 @ 05:40 PM
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An amazing success that never made a profit. Hmmm...

At least when I defend Boeing here I try to keep that goal in mind, rather than the national pride that I've been accused of.

Air travel is a business, and if a business case can be made outside the wave-the-flag and subsidize the project with taxpayer funds up the wazoo model favored by the Euroflappers, I'm all for it.



posted on Jan, 16 2008 @ 05:50 PM
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Originally posted by aaaaa
An amazing success that never made a profit. Hmmm...


It is in fact hard to put a value on a technological breakthrough which found its way into the consumer market. I think that electric cars in early 20th century were a great success (really), it's just that gasoline took over anyway. And feel free to say that Microsoft products are a great success... The IT person in me disagrees.



posted on Jan, 16 2008 @ 07:46 PM
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Great rock star/rich businessman transporter.


It was too loud to operate over populated areas on a regular basis, one thing that helped keep it out of the North American market.



posted on Jan, 16 2008 @ 08:10 PM
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Originally posted by what-lies-beneith
Great rock star/rich businessman transporter.


It was too loud to operate over populated areas on a regular basis, one thing that helped keep it out of the North American market.


I remember, that in the early days of the Concorde, some people reported all sort of things, below the path of the Concorde (loud noise, sick animals, etc., etc.), except that the Concorde didn't flew that day.

North American Market (read USA) did most of everything they could to block the Concorde, this is call protectionism.



posted on Jan, 16 2008 @ 08:28 PM
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Originally posted by aaaaa
An amazing success that never made a profit. Hmmm...

At least when I defend Boeing here I try to keep that goal in mind, rather than the national pride that I've been accused of.

Air travel is a business, and if a business case can be made outside the wave-the-flag and subsidize the project with taxpayer funds up the wazoo model favored by the Euroflappers, I'm all for it.


When Concorde was about to be a reality, Boeing was working on them own Supersonic Passenger Aircraft, the SST.

That Aircraft never flew, was it because, Boeing realized that it will be a financial disaster or because they realized that they couldn't do better (the SST was supposed to carried more passenger, had a wing variable geometry (which they never managed to make it work, every redesign lead to a big impact on the weight, resulting in bigger engine, etc.)).

Despite all it's flaw, Concorde is a milestone in the aviation history, no doubt, an one of the most beautiful aircraft ever built. All that was not lost, since lot of engineers started their career on this (I work with some of them, now) and continue with Airbus (it obviously help Europe to maintain and built the critical mass of knowledge to sustain an Aerospace Industries, just like the USA is doing it, thru their military program, no one is playing pure "free market" here).

When the Montreal (Mirabel) airport was first open, the Concorde was invited for that ceremony, I remember seeing it, taking off, from a short distance, it was very impressive.



posted on Jan, 17 2008 @ 02:35 AM
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Originally posted by PopeyeFAFL

When Concorde was about to be a reality, Boeing was working on them own Supersonic Passenger Aircraft, the SST.

That Aircraft never flew, was it because, Boeing realized that it will be a financial disaster or because they realized that they couldn't do better (the SST was supposed to carried more passenger, had a wing variable geometry (which they never managed to make it work, every redesign lead to a big impact on the weight, resulting in bigger engine, etc.)).


The Boeing SST, or B2707 project, was cancelled because taxpayer funding was withdrawn and Boeing did not want to complete the project on its own dollar.

In 1963 JFK formed the National Supersonic Transport program, and one of its mandates was the funding of the program from funds granted to it by the Senate.

In 1971, the Senate withdrew funding and Boeing cancelled the project.

At least we British and French taxpayers actually got a plane for our investment
Oh, and while the project was unprofitable, British Airways started making an operating profit on Concorde in the mid 1980s.



posted on Jan, 17 2008 @ 02:35 AM
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Originally posted by PopeyeFAFL

When Concorde was about to be a reality, Boeing was working on them own Supersonic Passenger Aircraft, the SST.

That Aircraft never flew, was it because, Boeing realized that it will be a financial disaster or because they realized that they couldn't do better (the SST was supposed to carried more passenger, had a wing variable geometry (which they never managed to make it work, every redesign lead to a big impact on the weight, resulting in bigger engine, etc.)).


The Boeing SST, or B2707 project, was cancelled because taxpayer funding was withdrawn and Boeing did not want to complete the project on its own dollar.

In 1963 JFK formed the National Supersonic Transport program, and one of its mandates was the funding of the program from funds granted to it by the Senate.

In 1971, the Senate withdrew funding and Boeing cancelled the project.

At least we British and French taxpayers actually got a plane for our investment
Oh, and while the project was unprofitable, British Airways started making an operating profit on Concorde in the mid 1980s.



posted on Jan, 17 2008 @ 05:32 AM
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Originally posted by aaaaa
An amazing success that never made a profit. Hmmm...


Yes, that is exactly what the Concrde programme was



At least when I defend Boeing here I try to keep that goal in mind, rather than the national pride that I've been accused of.

Air travel is a business,.....(emotive nonsense part snipped)


Which is perfectly valid of course and is the reason there is no SST today. But as I said before this is because of economic and environmental goalposts that did not exist when the SST chase began.

When calling the Concorde an amazing success of course, it is in the technological goals of the programme being met. Remember, not only was Concorde the ONLY ONE of several different SST programmes to progress to the point where it was trusted with fare paying civilians, but it did so then on a daily basis for many years.

By contrast with all the other promises from the 1950's and 60's all the worlds planes today are not VTOL's as standard, there is no single stage to orbit daily spaceplane (the Space Shuttle was supposed to give us this in its early days, there are no permanent bases on the Moon, and yet BAC and Sud Aviation DID deliver a working, reliable mach 2 airliner that met all its design objectives in full and looked like it came straight from Thunderbirds.

How unfair it would be to judge their effort a failure because AFTER the design and engineering headaches had been solved and their creation was demonstrating that every objective had been met the world position changed and nobody could afford it any more. Pan Am, JAL et al deserted the programme in droves, which was the only sensible option by that time, but does that condemn all the achievements of the programme to be dismissed?

Was this change the fault of the designers?
Did it mean that Concorde was suddenly unsafe?
Did the price of oil physically prevent Concorde from reaching mach 2?

Now if all this had been apparent during development and the teams simply chosen to ignore it there would be a case for calling the programme a folly, at least. The Concorde was created to be a mach 2 replacement for thr 707, which made perfect sense at the time, but things changed.

Concorde was an amazing technical achievement, for which the market was pulled from beneath it at the crucial point.

A NASA scientist was quoted many years ago as saying that building Concorde and making it work was harder than putting a man on the Moon, maybe people should think about that?



posted on Jan, 17 2008 @ 10:36 AM
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Originally posted by PopeyeFAFL

I remember, that in the early days of the Concorde, some people reported all sort of things, below the path of the Concorde (loud noise, sick animals, etc., etc.), except that the Concorde didn't flew that day.

North American Market (read USA) did most of everything they could to block the Concorde, this is call protectionism.


There were a lot of politics involved, and the Concord needed to be almost perfect to penetrate the highly competitive North American market. It was a good idea on paper but didn't face certain realities, and while it didn't virtually disappear like the Soviet SST from around the same period, it couldn't compete with the more conventional airliners that Boeing and other begain cranking out in the thousands.

It was a great achievemnet technologically and gave confidence to the European aerospace industry, but the plane itself never really "took off", not in the way it was invisaged while it was being built.



posted on Jan, 17 2008 @ 11:43 AM
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reply to post by what-lies-beneith
 


Sandwiched in between a lot of perfect sense I didn't get this line;


Concord needed to be almost perfect to penetrate the highly competitive North American market. It was a good idea on paper but didn't face certain realities


Could you expand on that because I am unaware of any 'realities' that were not faced during its development?

The reality then, and for most of the next decade until it was actually too late to respond, was that the world was expecting the next generation of airliners after the 707 and its followers to be supersonic, fuel was cheap and plentiful, noise restrictions were not really an issue and environmentalism was virtually non existent. Which realities were not faced?



posted on Jan, 17 2008 @ 12:03 PM
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Something to bear in mind - at the time Concorde was conceptualised, there was not a single aircraft in the world that could do any of the things that made Concorde special.

Supersonic flight was the realm of single or two seater military jets, who could only go supersonic for a few minutes to dash somewhere - and the pilots wore flight suits and helmets.

Conceptualising an aircraft that could cruise at Mach 2 for hours at a time, whilst carrying an average person in complete pressurised comfort, was practically unthinkable.



posted on Jan, 17 2008 @ 12:23 PM
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$$$ aside for a moment, I wonder if todays Stealth Technology, or at least a part of it could be incorporated into a Mach 2 passenger aircraft?

Perhaps ending up with a plane that when flying sub-sonic would be no louder than one of todays typical sub-sonic airliners.

The sonic boom is the problem in overland flights, but not too bad over the sea since fewer people are affected.


Just out of curiosity, about how far off the coast did the Concorde slow to subsonic?
As part of the descent program or were the descent and speed two items that were taken care of at different times?


I agree, a darned shame it was taken out of service.


Good post Waynos.
I flagged and starred it.



posted on Jan, 17 2008 @ 12:32 PM
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Originally posted by waynos
reply to post by what-lies-beneith
 


Sandwiched in between a lot of perfect sense I didn't get this line;


Concord needed to be almost perfect to penetrate the highly competitive North American market. It was a good idea on paper but didn't face certain realities


Could you expand on that because I am unaware of any 'realities' that were not faced during its development?

The reality then, and for most of the next decade until it was actually too late to respond, was that the world was expecting the next generation of airliners after the 707 and its followers to be supersonic, fuel was cheap and plentiful, noise restrictions were not really an issue and environmentalism was virtually non existent. Which realities were not faced?


The reality was the jet age itself was in its infancy, people were just getting used to the idea of traveling at close to Mach 1, was there there really a demand for a Mach 2 transport?

Of course noise with an SST is an issue. Flying over the Atlantic at Mach 2 is a lot different than flying over continental airspace where there's no way to avoid disturbing people with the sonic boom. I don't know about Europe but there's a constant battle here in North America around the needs of people living in residential areas near airports and the desire to bring in ever more aircraft. Noise has always been an issue since the start of large scale air travel and the Concord was one of the loudest aircraft built.



posted on Jan, 17 2008 @ 01:40 PM
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IMO the only problem with Concorde is that they never made enough of them.

so there!

(1 line compliant
)



posted on Jan, 17 2008 @ 02:18 PM
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Hmmmmm where to begin


Richard:

Yes BA was making a profit towards the end of the Concord run. Heck given the buzz the aircraft generated, even breaking even would have made it worth keeping in the air. However as you state the whole venture if you count in the develpment costs it lost a ton.



At least we British and French taxpayers actually got a plane for our investment


I beleive that this was exactly the nationalistic chest thumping Waynos was refering to in his intial post.

I think at times you have to look beyond the money and Sucess can mean far more than monatary.

Did the craft generate national pride?
Did the craft lead French and British aerospace to realms not previously imagined?
Did the production of the aircraft assist in the further development of the aforementioned Aerospace in both countries?
etc etc etc

If any of those are a yes, then the plane was a success IMHO.

Im a big beliver that research, even failed, pays dividens over the long run. People scoffed at Reagans Star Wars, but the research that came out of it benifited many.....



posted on Jan, 17 2008 @ 06:38 PM
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Originally posted by waynos
BA had always had better utilisation and were firmly against both the grounding and the eventual withdrawal, the French position was quite different though


- Which is a turn-around that is quite ironic given that for a long period in Concorde's life it was the British that were lukewarm to continuing with the project and the French that were the ones insisting that we keep it going.

I think it's a shame Concorde has gone and she certainly was one of the most strikingly beautiful aircraft ever to fly (IMHO......but also so many others)

On the other-hand with what we are learning about high altitude pollution maybe that's not such a bad thing afterall.

.....and insofar as these things can be quantified I think Concorde was a huge success in pushing the boundaries & generating new technologies & national wealth in the UK & France.
It was responsible for developing & keeping technical expertise & experience which would otherwise have been lost.

Some things really were well outside the standard accountancy and well worth it.

[edit on 17-1-2008 by sminkeypinkey]



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