From September 1973 to May 2003, Concorde dominated the Civil Aviation World as the first and only Supersonic Passenger Service. Built as a joint venture between various British and French Aerospace and Engineering Companies the Concorde broke barriers within the Civil Aviation Industry. A small group of Welbeck DSFC Students were lucky enough to visit Aerospace Bristol at Filton on the 6th of November 2017; the museum is home to a variety of aircraft and equipment from the early years of aviation up until the modern day.
On arrival at Aerospace Bristol we were all eager to enter the brand new £19 million pound facility which had only been open for 3 weeks. The museum celebrates the City’s century long aviation history and also contains the Alpha Foxtrot Concorde which was the last ever Concorde to built.
On entrance to the museum you are instantly surrounded by a variety of information, photographs, artefacts and models of aircraft and the pioneers who created them. The timeline begins in 1903 with the fathers of aviation; the Wright brothers. Walking around you learn about the first few flights and how the engineers designed and begun to assemble the aircraft. The stories all link back to Bristol and how it is involved in the early stages of aircraft development. The Bristol Fighter and Bristol Scout are the first examples shown of Bristol’s involvement in the development of fighter and biplanes. The two aircraft were used by the Royal Flying Corps in the early 1910’s and were both vital in the First World War.
Concorde was a world wide phenomenon, firstly introducing supersonic transport to normal people, but also it created an alliance between the French and British. The two national airline companies and manufacturers; Air France (AF), British Airways (BA), Sud Aviation (later Aérospatiale) and British Aircraft Company (BAC), worked as a combined force to initially share the expensive costs, but later came to save the aircraft from retirement. Two prototypes were created, one for each country, with construction being shared between France and Britain.
International airline companies pre-ordered the highly advanced aircraft with the expectation that the public would buy the tickets. However, the aircraft proved to be highly polluting by both air and sound. Black smoke would pour out of the engines on take off and landing which, on an international sales pitch to the world, changed the minds of the companies who pre-ordered some. The only airlines who actually purchased Concorde were British Airways and Air France.
Concorde’s safety record was exceptional, known to be one of the safest aircraft in the world. However, following the incident of Air France Flight 4590 on 25 July 2000, the fate of Concorde was settled. The incident wasn’t actually the result of a failure on Concorde, it was due to a nut that fell off the previous aircraft on the take off strip. It punctured one of Concorde’s tyres, which split up and got sucked in the one of the supersonic jets. The jet and fuel ruptured and set alight, causing the deaths of all 109 passengers and crew.
Concorde was also being challenged by the American company Boeing. Later, however, Boeing stopped designing a supersonic aircraft due to costs, and began a design on a new aircraft, the Boeing 747, one of the most successful aircrafts in the history of flight.
Robert Gornall and Harry Williamson