The 73 oil crisis, a hardening of US attitudes after the B2707 SST was axed, a general recession even before the oil crisis (which was why the highly influential Pan AM
pulled out), led to just BOAC and AF
At first, AF
were probably more enthusiastic than BA
, but both airlines found that given the aircraft they had, the early production Concorde, the only route they could attempt to make money on was to JFK
Business people would pay for the speed.
Things changed when the UK government told BA
in 1981, that the maze of contracts, support etc for Concorde, would end.
Everyone expected that BA
would call time on Concorde, with AF
then paying the full support costs, they wouldn't be that far behind in terminating too.
But, though new BA
CEO, Lord King, was a balance sheet man, he knew that BA
) had an asset no one else did.
From March 1984, BA
, after paying a nominal sum for spares and new support contracts, ran Concorde to make money, unlike before, they'd keep all of it now, not give 80% of any profit to the UK government.
What followed was over 15 years of profits for BA
Concorde, big profits, investment in the product, additional services, a big charter programme.
, for most of Concorde's life, could support a double daily between London and New York, the only time it could not be was after Sept 11th.
Let be clear on this, that was the biggest nail in Concorde's coffin, BA
spent a lot of time and money keeping regular customers in the loop, even inviting them to see the mods to return to flight being done in spring/early summer 2001.
But, even if things had been different in this period, we were still looking at a 2005/7 retirement.
Had the Concorde B been built, the increased range (and less noise as no reheat) of this version would have made Frankfurt-New York non stop viable, to give an example of two major business centers up to 4000 miles apart with mostly water in between.
The reason no successor to Concorde has been built is that Concorde's very small numbers allowed some waiving of environmental regs, no one is going to build an aircraft that is not going sell in large numbers, but, both manufacturers and research agencies have determined that even big improvements in these issues, are still not enough to make a mass market airliner.
Aside from those issues, well the trick is to have a aircraft with the low noise and low emissions, low fuel burn of a modern widebody, for take off, subsonic flight and landing, that can somehow turn into what is needed for sustained supercruise, the propulsion requirements to do both are almost diametrically opposed.
What is not a target to beat was Concorde's speed (a major reason for B2707's failure-going for Mach 3, later Mach 2.7, needing exotic materials and bigger challenges for cooling), or to try to beat Concorde's efficiency in supercruise.
Funny to see that old myth on here still, sorry doubters, but Concorde was very efficient in supercruise, Concorde cruised at Mach 2 for a couple of hours without reheat and engines at around 10,000lb of thrust each, (reheated take off was 38,000lb per engine), show me any military aircraft that can do that!
Concorde to a point proved that an SST could work, (something the TU
-144 never got close to doing), however, the operators got them in circumstances unlikely to be repeated today, in a totally different airline environment.
at least, did in time run it on a fully commercial basis, however they were not shy on promoting Concorde's exclusiveness, so charged accordingly.
This would not be the same for a more mass market SST (let's say 200-300 seats, 6-7000 mile range), even if such a machine were environmentally acceptable.
In late 1998, Boeing and NASA concluded that even if they could greatly reduce the environmental impact, by the time this SST entered service, environmental regs would have tightened further, not to mention the sonic boom overland problem.
This, along with the very high development costs and uncertain market, was why they took their studies no further, which concurred with smaller scale Studies in Europe.