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Mach 2 miracles

10 months ago

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Andrew Frankel | Ti co-founder


4 September 2023

Hard to believe it’s been 20 years. But it has. Three of them came into land at Heathrow, one after the other, having just completed a low level flight around London. The last, G-BOAG – or Alpha Golf as it was known – touched down at five minutes past four in the afternoon of 24 October 2003, the very last flight by an Aérospatiale/BAC Concorde to carry fee-paying passengers.

The least used of all the Concordes, G-BOAG had still spent 16,239 hours in the air – not far short of two years – and gone supersonic 5633 times. But that was that: the era of supersonic commercial travel had ended, a little short of 28 years after it had begun. Just over a month later, its sister, Alpha Foxtrot, landed at Filton airfield on the outskirts of Bristol where it had been built and remains to this day, the last flight of any kind by any supersonic civilian aircraft.

Concorde was killed by many things: the awful crash shortly after take-off from Paris Charles de Gaulle on 25 July 2000 and the loss of air traffic following the September 11 hijacking the following year played a part for sure; but even without these terrible events, it would surely not have lasted any longer. For the fact is Concorde was always a loss leader, an aircraft for which over 100 orders were received, but all bar 14 cancelled. But what really killed it was Airbus, which had bought Aérospatiale and announced that it would no longer make spare parts for it after 2003. It was – literally – an analogue aircraft in an increasingly digital age and the numbers simply didn’t add up.

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