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ZeeZoo
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Did the Concorde "fail"?

Mon May 15, 2017 2:13 pm

Have a watch of this video too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_wuykzfFzE

It's a jet that sold nowhere near as many as anticipated, it was hit by numerous restrictions, Air France struggled to "make it work", it required immense Government subsidies and it never had a successor and supersonic travel has faded.

Yet at the same time, it was a jet that captured the imagination like no other, it turned consistent profits for Britrish Airways, it flew a healthy 27 years and could have gone on for another 3-5 years, a very good safety record for supersonic travel, it proved that supersonic travel was possible and was possible to run quite profitable routes...

So was the Concorde a failure? Was it a success story? Or was it something in between, a jet never living up to its potential?
 
cskok8
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Mon May 15, 2017 2:27 pm

None were sold. BA and Air France got theirs foc
 
klakzky123
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Mon May 15, 2017 2:28 pm

It failed in the sense that supersonic travel became heavily restricted over time. Most of the routes that were envisioned became impossible because of noise restrictions. Plus fuel consumption was so high that the economics crashed as fuel prices rose. The video also pointed out that they had to keep a spare concorde sitting around just to satisfy customers in case their flight required maintenance. I'm sure BA revenue management had fits about having a plane sitting around that required maintenance but was never used except in cases of IROPS.

None of this makes sense economically. Even BA's flights were still functionally subsidized. They were given the jets for free. The Concorde did prove that LON to NYC was perfectly viable for supersonic travel. Other than that, it demonstrated that we have work to do to get the costs of supersonic travel down to a reasonable point (especially limiting the impact that fuel prices has on operating costs) and we have work to do to limit the impact of sonic booms in order to open up new routes that cross significant amounts of land (think US transcontinental routes for example).
 
FromCDGtoSYD
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Mon May 15, 2017 2:39 pm

It depends at what angle you look at it.

Of course it was a failure for many reasons, it wasn't future proof (3 man cockpit), low fuel efficiency, very little floor space (couldn't adapt to the new standards of seating for example), supersonic flight is very limited because of the "boom" (added to the fact takeoffs and landings were quiet loud to).

However the reason why Air France and British Airways operated them for so long was that they saw the potential it brought. They managed to turn quiet a profit with just the CDG/LHR - JFK/IAD routes (they also chartered the planes quiet often). Concorde was also great for their image, what better flagship is there than Concorde !
For Aerospatiale it wasn't a sales success of course, but who cared ? At the time it was a question of "We can do it" and not "It is too expensive". It also helped as a huge stepping stone in aerospace R&D, being one of the first planes to feature fly-by-wire for example.

tl:dr if you look at the ROI yes it was a failure, but if you look at the bigger picture it's not all black and white
 
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Dutchy
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Mon May 15, 2017 2:44 pm

Commercially it was a failure
Technological it was brilliant
Imaginationfactor it was priceless

cskok8 wrote:
None were sold. BA and Air France got theirs foc

Not true, 9 were sold at list price, 7 were sold for one Pound or French Frank.
Many happy landings, greetings from The Netherlands!
 
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intotheair
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Mon May 15, 2017 2:53 pm

FromCDGtoSYD wrote:
tl:dr if you look at the ROI yes it was a failure, but if you look at the bigger picture it's not all black and white


Exactly. The only thing more annoying than the voice in those Vox videos is the presumption that the Concorde was a "failure." As a commercially viable aircraft platform, then yes, it was a failure. But from an engineering standpoint, it is one of the marvels of our time.

It's just a false premise and overly simplistic to say "the Concorde was a failure." If that's true, was the Apollo program a failure just because we aren't sending people to the moon anymore, or can we still celebrate it as a triumph of human achievement?
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ZeeZoo
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Mon May 15, 2017 2:58 pm

intotheair wrote:
FromCDGtoSYD wrote:
tl:dr if you look at the ROI yes it was a failure, but if you look at the bigger picture it's not all black and white

It's just a false premise and overly simplistic to say "the Concorde was a failure." If that's true, was the Apollo program a failure just because we aren't sending people to the moon anymore, or can we still celebrate it as a triumph of human achievement?

Brilliant point and my go to defence when defending projects like the Concorde and Space programmes.
 
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EA CO AS
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Mon May 15, 2017 3:32 pm

ZeeZoo wrote:
intotheair wrote:
FromCDGtoSYD wrote:
tl:dr if you look at the ROI yes it was a failure, but if you look at the bigger picture it's not all black and white

It's just a false premise and overly simplistic to say "the Concorde was a failure." If that's true, was the Apollo program a failure just because we aren't sending people to the moon anymore, or can we still celebrate it as a triumph of human achievement?

Brilliant point and my go to defence when defending projects like the Concorde and Space programmes.


Apples and oranges. The Apollo program was never created nor billed as a for-profit enterprise, pursuing, taking, and losing orders for sales to private operators for commercial use.

If you ask, "Was Concorde a huge technological achievement?" the answer is most certainly yes, it was. But if you ask, "Was Concorde a commercial success?" - which is important, since that's the reason BAC/Aerospatiale went into their joint venture in the first place - then the answer can only be, "No, not really."

I'd avoid a full-throated "NO!" only because as has been said earlier, it did succeed in the charter space and proved that there was a market, albeit a small, expensive one, for low-frequency, high perceived value supersonic travel. But even during its heyday, BA and AF would acknowledge that the F product offered on their widebody fleets was far superior since they had more room and more time to serve their customers.

Concorde offered speed, and a perception of prestige. Those were its success points.
Last edited by EA CO AS on Mon May 15, 2017 3:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Comments made here are my own and are not intended to represent the official position of Alaska Air Group
 
ZeeZoo
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Mon May 15, 2017 3:37 pm

Also, this is an absolutely fascinating read: http://www.concorde-spirit-tours.com/concorde.htm
 
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Mon May 15, 2017 3:44 pm

To be honest, I know Concorde lost money, but they should have kept 3 of them.
One for AF
One for BA
And one to charter to African dictators. Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Nbengdu Wa Za Banga apparently loved the Concorde, and chartered it to fly him from Congo to Paris
TLV, BRU, ZRH, CDG, FRA, EWR, JFK, DEN, SFO, AUS, RNO, SEA, YYC, YYZ, IAH, ATL, IAD, DCA, ORD, SJC, SNA
 
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Mon May 15, 2017 3:57 pm

It was the first commercial FBW aircraft to have a side stick. Airbus tested the side stick in the Concorde before testing it in the A300. Concorde was one of the first FBW aircraft (analog FBW not digital).

Lots of aerospace technology has its roots with Concorde, without ambition to build projects like that I doubt we would be where we are today.
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Mon May 15, 2017 4:05 pm

Concorde failed commercially but was a human triumph, an intersection of nationalism, science and luxury.
 
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intotheair
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Mon May 15, 2017 4:16 pm

EA CO AS wrote:
Apples and oranges. The Apollo program was never created nor billed as a for-profit enterprise, pursuing, taking, and losing orders for sales to private operators for commercial use.


That is true. Maybe not the best point of reference, but what I'm getting at is that a technical marvel isn't any less great if it doesn't make money, regardless of whether it is intended for the commercial sector or not.

If you ask, "Was Concorde a huge technological achievement?" the answer is most certainly yes, it was. But if you ask, "Was Concorde a commercial success?" - which is important, since that's the reason BAC/Aerospatiale went into their joint venture in the first place - then the answer can only be, "No, not really."

I'd avoid a full-throated "NO!" only because as has been said earlier, it did succeed in the charter space and proved that there was a market, albeit a small, expensive one, for low-frequency, high perceived value supersonic travel. But even during its heyday, BA and AF would acknowledge that the F product offered on their widebody fleets was far superior since they had more room and more time to serve their customers.

Concorde offered speed, and a perception of prestige. Those were its success points.


I think I object not to the argument or answer, but the premise. Reducing the question to whether it was a failure or success, yes or no, feels rather confining. That was my main problem with the Vox video when it came out a few months ago. But this is Vox after all — they are a somewhat clickbait-y website that tends to overanalyze everything by starting with often comically oversimplified questions or theses.
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PW100
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Mon May 15, 2017 4:32 pm

EA CO AS wrote:
Apples and oranges. The Apollo program was never created nor billed as a for-profit enterprise, pursuing, taking, and losing orders for sales to private operators for commercial use.

If you ask, "Was Concorde a huge technological achievement?" the answer is most certainly yes, it was. But if you ask, "Was Concorde a commercial success?" - which is important, since that's the reason BAC/Aerospatiale went into their joint venture in the first place - then the answer can only be, "No, not really.".


Perhaps you did not notice, but you are the one introducing apples and oranges.

Thread starter (and intotheair) never used the word "commercial"; that was your own orange. . . :-)
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B2707SST
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Mon May 15, 2017 4:45 pm

One correction: BA and AF did not receive all their aircraft for free. BA ordered 5 and AF 4 in 1972 and paid for them; I'm not sure if the purchase prices were disclosed, but at the time, Concorde listed for more than a 747. Aerospatiale/BAC built five more production frames as white-tails and found no takers. Without use for these aircraft, they were eventually "sold" to BA (2) and AF (3) for 1 franc each.

During BA's privitization in 1984, they also acquired G-BBDG (ln 202, a production-spec development aircraft) as a parts source in exchange for eliminating Concorde's operating and maintenance subsidy. Apparently they looked into making BBDG airworthy at some point but obviously this never came to fruition.
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EA CO AS
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Mon May 15, 2017 5:13 pm

PW100 wrote:
EA CO AS wrote:
Apples and oranges. The Apollo program was never created nor billed as a for-profit enterprise, pursuing, taking, and losing orders for sales to private operators for commercial use.

If you ask, "Was Concorde a huge technological achievement?" the answer is most certainly yes, it was. But if you ask, "Was Concorde a commercial success?" - which is important, since that's the reason BAC/Aerospatiale went into their joint venture in the first place - then the answer can only be, "No, not really.".


Perhaps you did not notice, but you are the one introducing apples and oranges.

Thread starter (and intotheair) never used the word "commercial"; that was your own orange. . . :-)


You may have neglected to read that my reply was directed to the aforementioned post where Concorde was compared to "the space program," and my point being that one was a for-profit venture while the other was strictly a state-sponsored endeavor of exploration.

And getting to the OP, while he never used the word "commercial," he asked simply "Did it 'fail'?" and you cannot answer such a sweeping question without breaking down the components, such as commercial viability vs. the "This would be cool - can we do this?" factor.
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Comments made here are my own and are not intended to represent the official position of Alaska Air Group
 
32andBelow
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Mon May 15, 2017 5:16 pm

klakzky123 wrote:
It failed in the sense that supersonic travel became heavily restricted over time. Most of the routes that were envisioned became impossible because of noise restrictions. Plus fuel consumption was so high that the economics crashed as fuel prices rose. The video also pointed out that they had to keep a spare concorde sitting around just to satisfy customers in case their flight required maintenance. I'm sure BA revenue management had fits about having a plane sitting around that required maintenance but was never used except in cases of IROPS.

None of this makes sense economically. Even BA's flights were still functionally subsidized. They were given the jets for free. The Concorde did prove that LON to NYC was perfectly viable for supersonic travel. Other than that, it demonstrated that we have work to do to get the costs of supersonic travel down to a reasonable point (especially limiting the impact that fuel prices has on operating costs) and we have work to do to limit the impact of sonic booms in order to open up new routes that cross significant amounts of land (think US transcontinental routes for example).

Had fits about having a spare? Are airlines have spares. If you don't have a spare you're bound to fail.
 
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JannEejit
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Mon May 15, 2017 5:24 pm

In terms of take off noise, was Concorde really discernibly louder than any other low bypass jet of the 1970's ? I can recall bring equally deafened by departing VC-10's and those eardrum shattering Tridents. Obviously Concorde outlived those types operationally but was the noise really that bad or was it fighting against an already rolling bandwagon ?
 
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JannEejit
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Mon May 15, 2017 5:24 pm

In terms of take off noise, was Concorde really discernibly louder than any other low bypass jet of the 1970's ? I can recall bring equally deafened by departing VC-10's and those eardrum shattering Tridents. Obviously Concorde outlived those types operationally but was the noise really that bad or was it fighting against an already rolling bandwagon ?
 
CometOrbit
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Mon May 15, 2017 5:24 pm

The British (Labour) government wanted to cancel the Concorde programme on cost grounds in the 1970s before it went into production, but found it had signed a treaty with the French government not to do so (to prevent the French from cancelling it unilaterally).
Talk about shooting yourself in the foot!
Concorde was therefore assured of completion, but as a result we had to cancel the then Channel Tunnel and 3rd London airport projects.
We're still waiting for the airport!
Whatever its own merits, the intergovernmental Concorde project essentially paved the way for the Airbus consortium to develop its cross-European range of fully commercial aircraft.
 
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BaconButty
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Mon May 15, 2017 6:14 pm

EA CO AS wrote:
You may have neglected to read that my reply was directed to the aforementioned post where Concorde was compared to "the space program," and my point being that one was a for-profit venture while the other was strictly a state-sponsored endeavor of exploration.

The problem is, it wasn't a for-profit venture per-se. It was well understood that the program would probably lose money but the perception was that supersonic passenger travel was the future, and we had to be in it.

The UK’s then Minister of Aviation, Duncan Sandys:
If we are not in the supersonic aircraft business, then it's really only a matter of time before the whole British aircraft industry packs in. It's obviously the thing of the future. It may pay. It may not pay, but we cannot afford to stay out.

http://researchbriefings.files.parliame ... N02764.pdf
Down with that sort of thing!
 
Arion640
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Mon May 15, 2017 6:21 pm

B2707SST wrote:
One correction: BA and AF did not receive all their aircraft for free. BA ordered 5 and AF 4 in 1972 and paid for them; I'm not sure if the purchase prices were disclosed, but at the time, Concorde listed for more than a 747. Aerospatiale/BAC built five more production frames as white-tails and found no takers. Without use for these aircraft, they were eventually "sold" to BA (2) and AF (3) for 1 franc each.

During BA's privitization in 1984, they also acquired G-BBDG (ln 202, a production-spec development aircraft) as a parts source in exchange for eliminating Concorde's operating and maintenance subsidy. Apparently they looked into making BBDG airworthy at some point but obviously this never came to fruition.


BA was BOAC is 1972. Both airlines were state owned so would have to buy the Government funded aircraft. Public money going round in circles.

Big correction for everyone. a lot were sold/orded to/from various airlines. Pan Am was meant to be next in line to take the plane. F-BTSC, the aircraft that crashed at CDG was built for Pan Am. So many aircraft orded not so many got delivered.
 
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EA CO AS
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Mon May 15, 2017 6:27 pm

BaconButty wrote:
EA CO AS wrote:
You may have neglected to read that my reply was directed to the aforementioned post where Concorde was compared to "the space program," and my point being that one was a for-profit venture while the other was strictly a state-sponsored endeavor of exploration.

The problem is, it wasn't a for-profit venture per-se. It was well understood that the program would probably lose money but the perception was that supersonic passenger travel was the future, and we had to be in it.

The UK’s then Minister of Aviation, Duncan Sandys:
If we are not in the supersonic aircraft business, then it's really only a matter of time before the whole British aircraft industry packs in. It's obviously the thing of the future. It may pay. It may not pay, but we cannot afford to stay out.

http://researchbriefings.files.parliame ... N02764.pdf


And yet, the reasons cited for staying in the program included profit potential, further backing my assertion that comparing the development of Concorde to the development of the space program is an apples and oranges comparison.
"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem - government IS the problem." - Ronald Reagan

Comments made here are my own and are not intended to represent the official position of Alaska Air Group
 
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BaconButty
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Mon May 15, 2017 10:14 pm

EA CO AS wrote:
And yet, the reasons cited for staying in the program included profit potential, further backing my assertion that comparing the development of Concorde to the development of the space program is an apples and oranges comparison.

I don't know how you can come to that conclusion. 10 minutes googling the various committees would find plenty of citations (both parliamentary and industrial actors) demonstrating that profit was neither truly expected nor the primary driver, though the one I supplied up thread should be adequate. And plenty of references to:
  1. Preservation of the industrial base
  2. Gaining a technological lead in supersonic passenger aircraft, then perceived as being the future
  3. Political considerations re. the UK's relationship with Europe
  4. Prestige (That word was used, as often as not pejoratively)
It has more in common with Apollo than the A350 programme for example. As for whether Concorde was a success has to be assessed against these.
Down with that sort of thing!
 
sadiqutp
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Mon May 15, 2017 11:37 pm

What do you guys think of the new supersonic project under progress by a company called "Boom." Between advanced materials and engines, their 45 seater concept is promising a 30% less fuel consumption compared to the concord and ticket prices comparable to business class !

https://youtu.be/R43gKMWAPco?t=10s
 
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mariner
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Mon May 15, 2017 11:45 pm

ZeeZoo wrote:
So was the Concorde a failure? Was it a success story? Or was it something in between, a jet never living up to its potential?


Who cares? Flying on Concorde was the most thrilling experience of my life. I'd give almost anything to be able to do it again.

mariner
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EA CO AS
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Tue May 16, 2017 12:02 am

mariner wrote:
ZeeZoo wrote:
So was the Concorde a failure? Was it a success story? Or was it something in between, a jet never living up to its potential?


Who cares? Flying on Concorde was the most thrilling experience of my life. I'd give almost anything to be able to do it again.

mariner


This. Boarded a BA Concorde at PHX once, but never flew her. As a then 19 year old newhire at AS, I had the opportunity to buy a OW ticket between JFK and LHR for $450USD but never took advantage of it. Oh, to have that chance again....
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Comments made here are my own and are not intended to represent the official position of Alaska Air Group
 
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Tue May 16, 2017 1:10 am

[twoid][/twoid]
JannEejit wrote:
In terms of take off noise, was Concorde really discernibly louder than any other low bypass jet of the 1970's ? I can recall bring equally deafened by departing VC-10's and those eardrum shattering Tridents. Obviously Concorde outlived those types operationally but was the noise really that bad or was it fighting against an already rolling bandwagon ?

Pedantic point of order! The Concorde was NOT a low by-pass jet like the others you mentioned. It was a straight turbo jet [ie NO by pass] like the early B707s, DC-8s, Comets, etc. It was designed that way because the pure turbo was much more fuel efficient in supersonic flight. Of course is was much less fuel efficient in sub sonic flight.

Gemuser
 
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Tue May 16, 2017 1:26 am

I've had a never ending infatuation with this aircraft, and I am completely in line with the previous two posts. I finally saw one "In The Flesh" at the Udvar-Hazey annex at KIAD a few years ago, and was in complete awe.
As far as the OP's initial question, I could see her majesty dipping into both the "failure" and "success" categories, as it did generate revenue(albeit at a hefty cost) and maintained the elegance of air travel. Though it may not have been the most viable entity, it was a remarkably ground breaking one.
 
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Tue May 16, 2017 1:53 am

JannEejit wrote:
In terms of take off noise, was Concorde really discernibly louder than any other low bypass jet of the 1970's ? I can recall bring equally deafened by departing VC-10's and those eardrum shattering Tridents. Obviously Concorde outlived those types operationally but was the noise really that bad or was it fighting against an already rolling bandwagon ?

First of all, the Olympus 593 engine wasn't a low bypass engine. It was a no bypass straight turbojet.

And yes, with the afterburners lit it was a lot louder than any other transport plane ever produced. But it didn't last so long, gear up and having accelerated to some 300-350 kts, the high drag from extreme angle of attack was much reduced, and the afterburners were cut. That made it comparable to early JT3C equipped B707/DC-8 of late 50'es, even if power was roughly double.

The afterburners would be lit again for acceleration from Mach 0.95 to 1.7, but that was at high altitude over the ocean

It was tolerated because it flew so little. 14 planes saw commercial service over 28 years (none of them flew all 28 years) and flew not much more than 200,000 hours combined.

When they were designed back in the 60'es it was known that they would be more costly to operate, but that would be compensated by the higher efficiency, Since it flew so much faster, each plane could do more flights, and that way transport much more passengers in a day than a subsonic plane.

As it turned out, if the Concorde had been utilized as many hours per day as an average wide body long distance plane is utilized today, then 14 planes would have been way to many. Two planes would have been more than enough. But that's theory. In reality there was way too much nursing in the hangars for that. Also making that much noise at nighttime was a big no-no.
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speedbored
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Tue May 16, 2017 8:40 am

mariner wrote:
Who cares? Flying on Concorde was the most thrilling experience of my life. I'd give almost anything to be able to do it again.

:checkmark: :checkmark: :checkmark:

I was lucky enough to fly Concorde a few times and every takeoff and landing put a huge smile on my face. It was a surprise how small it was inside, every time I boarded, and I never did manage to use the toilet without banging my head :)

Also witnessed many take-offs while sat in car park "M25" near Heathrow - always an awesome experience.

Commercial failure? Yes, except perhaps for BA.
Technological failure? Absolutely not. Amazing achievement for the time and led to the development of many technologies that are still in use today.

It was a very sad day when it flew for the final time.
 
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TOGA10
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Tue May 16, 2017 8:59 am

32andBelow wrote:
klakzky123 wrote:
It failed in the sense that supersonic travel became heavily restricted over time. Most of the routes that were envisioned became impossible because of noise restrictions. Plus fuel consumption was so high that the economics crashed as fuel prices rose. The video also pointed out that they had to keep a spare concorde sitting around just to satisfy customers in case their flight required maintenance. I'm sure BA revenue management had fits about having a plane sitting around that required maintenance but was never used except in cases of IROPS.

None of this makes sense economically. Even BA's flights were still functionally subsidized. They were given the jets for free. The Concorde did prove that LON to NYC was perfectly viable for supersonic travel. Other than that, it demonstrated that we have work to do to get the costs of supersonic travel down to a reasonable point (especially limiting the impact that fuel prices has on operating costs) and we have work to do to limit the impact of sonic booms in order to open up new routes that cross significant amounts of land (think US transcontinental routes for example).

Had fits about having a spare? Are airlines have spares. If you don't have a spare you're bound to fail.

I think what klakzky123 is trying to say that for such a small subfleet, it is really expensive to have one sitting around all the time, just in case another one goes tech. Of course you have a spare aircraft normally, but not necessarily the same type, i.e. you can book a 777 trip but you might end up in a 330. But this being Concorde, pax would be very unhappy to see a 747 show up to fly them to JFK, and obviously that would take a lot longer as well.
I wanna go back upstairs!
 
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Tue May 16, 2017 9:13 am

BaconButty wrote:
EA CO AS wrote:
And yet, the reasons cited for staying in the program included profit potential, further backing my assertion that comparing the development of Concorde to the development of the space program is an apples and oranges comparison.

I don't know how you can come to that conclusion. 10 minutes googling the various committees would find plenty of citations (both parliamentary and industrial actors) demonstrating that profit was neither truly expected nor the primary driver, though the one I supplied up thread should be adequate. And plenty of references to:
  1. Preservation of the industrial base
  2. Gaining a technological lead in supersonic passenger aircraft, then perceived as being the future
  3. Political considerations re. the UK's relationship with Europe
  4. Prestige (That word was used, as often as not pejoratively)
It has more in common with Apollo than the A350 programme for example. As for whether Concorde was a success has to be assessed against these.


Yes. All this BS about being such a commercial failure (which always seems to come from members of a certain background) is completely ignoring the fact that Concorde *WAS* Europe's Apollo programme! It was hoped to sell but it was mostly there as a project to advance European technology, science and co-operation. And in that respect it has succeeded pretty well - Airbus (and I suppose its cousins Astrium and Arianespace) is more or less the direct outcome.
"As with most things related to aircraft design, it's all about the trade-offs and much more nuanced than A.net likes to make out."
 
UAL777UK
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Tue May 16, 2017 9:58 am

mariner wrote:
ZeeZoo wrote:
So was the Concorde a failure? Was it a success story? Or was it something in between, a jet never living up to its potential?


Who cares? Flying on Concorde was the most thrilling experience of my life. I'd give almost anything to be able to do it again.

mariner


Mariner, could not agree more. Anyone that flew her would know what a fantastic machine she was and the word "fail" just do not come into the equation.
 
mutu
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Tue May 16, 2017 10:41 am

B2707SST wrote:
One correction: BA and AF did not receive all their aircraft for free. BA ordered 5 and AF 4 in 1972 and paid for them; I'm not sure if the purchase prices were disclosed, but at the time, Concorde listed for more than a 747. Aerospatiale/BAC built five more production frames as white-tails and found no takers. Without use for these aircraft, they were eventually "sold" to BA (2) and AF (3) for 1 franc each.

During BA's privitization in 1984, they also acquired G-BBDG (ln 202, a production-spec development aircraft) as a parts source in exchange for eliminating Concorde's operating and maintenance subsidy. Apparently they looked into making BBDG airworthy at some point but obviously this never came to fruition.



And just to add th that, when the Thatcher government privatised BA, the private shareholders then paid £billions to the UK Treasury for an airline with a poor track record and only a short history of profitable trading and employee relations harmony (!!). As one if those initial investors I am happy to say I "paid" for my share of Concorde!!
 
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Clipper101
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Tue May 16, 2017 10:44 am

If you call it a failure then it is another failure of a products that was ahead of itself, that being said I would say it is something in between success & failure. The success being in the time aviation was able to put in a technology so daring to have people travel twice the speed of sound for that long. The failure was in that it is a plane which played against all odds, then saw those same odds turn against it to ground it, and by that I mean economics of air travel.

I am still self convinced if you take this same airframe & revitalize what is underneath from systems, avionics and engine technology, the plane could find to itself a case in today’s air travel. Yes, a ‘Concorde neo’. If Airbus can make it their next project, wao … please let me keep dreaming & don’t wake me up !

UAL777UK wrote:
Anyone that flew her would know what a fantastic machine she was and the word "fail" just do not come into the equation.


I had the privilege to walk around & inside it once, and ‘oh boy’ that was quite a sensation and pleasure. I would only imagine the sensation to fly in it: A small arrow in all respect that tv footage show bigger than reality (which it is, a plane bigger than reality). There was talk that day a BA Concorde will be on ground late evening, so I stayed late at work to go and see it. I also chatted with the BA Engineer who was flying with it to give it the release, he told me about the high ego 'do-not-dare-talking-to-me attitude' Concorde pilots have.
 
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Clipper101
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Tue May 16, 2017 11:23 am

JannEejit wrote:
In terms of take off noise, was Concorde really discernibly louder than any other low bypass jet of the 1970's ?


I was once a passenger in a plane waiting for its departure turn at JFK when a Concorde was doing its take-off run, and that noise was a rocket-style loud !
 
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intotheair
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Tue May 16, 2017 11:24 am

I am so jealous of those of you who had the privilege of flying the Concorde! The closest I ever got to it was seeing it at the apron at LHR and then later at the museum in Chantilly.

I, like many on here, are somewhat skeptical about Boom Technologies' attempts to build a similar aircraft, though they seem to be making some progress, so I guess we'll have to see.
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WIederling
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Tue May 16, 2017 11:48 am

cskok8 wrote:
None were sold. BA and Air France got theirs foc


Obviously it is all a socialist jobs programme here in Europe.
( do they actually teach that in schools? comes up so very often ... )

Afaik BA and AF paid more or less list for their Concordes.

( As with any other airframe and the 787 especially that does not cover
actual production cost for early frames nor the R&D for the type.)
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Gr8Circle
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Tue May 16, 2017 11:57 am

JannEejit wrote:
In terms of take off noise, was Concorde really discernibly louder than any other low bypass jet of the 1970's ? I can recall bring equally deafened by departing VC-10's and those eardrum shattering Tridents. Obviously Concorde outlived those types operationally but was the noise really that bad or was it fighting against an already rolling bandwagon ?


Yes it certainly was....and considerably so......the VC-10 was very loud and harsh, but the concorde made it sound like music......
 
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Revelation
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Tue May 16, 2017 12:20 pm

SomebodyInTLS wrote:
Yes. All this BS about being such a commercial failure (which always seems to come from members of a certain background) is completely ignoring the fact that Concorde *WAS* Europe's Apollo programme! It was hoped to sell but it was mostly there as a project to advance European technology, science and co-operation. And in that respect it has succeeded pretty well - Airbus (and I suppose its cousins Astrium and Arianespace) is more or less the direct outcome.

Thank you for the stereotyping. I'll do my best to live up to the standards you set.

Your post makes me think the better analogy to Concorde would be the Space Shuttle program, not just because it defeats the stereotype you've chosen to inject. It was sold to the public as having commercial potential but it never was reached and in hindsight it probably would have been better to not even included that in its mission statement, but it never would have gotten funded without the commercial angle. Same perhaps for Concorde?

Personally I hold the unpopular view that the Space Shuttle was a failure, for the same reason -- it never lived up to some of the most primary goals it had, rapid reuse, low cost entry to space, and thus commercialization of space. Sure, it got a few Congressmen some trips to space and it serviced the Hubble Telescope a few times, but scientifically and economically speaking we'd be better off if we just built and launched a replacement space telescope every decade rather than servicing the same old tech one we have up there now. The money we'd have saved could have given the top ten universities their own earth based telescope and the amount of science achieved and the amount of scientists and engineers trained would be far greater.

And, yes, there is no denying Concorde was a commercial failure. Cash out far exceeded cash in. It created a new class of aircraft that has shown itself to be commercially and ecologically unsustainable. YET everyone involved would do it all over again, despite its failure to create a commercially sound new class of supersonic transports.

I agree that we probably would not have companies of the scale of Airbus, Astrum or Arianespace without Concorde. Therefore we're back to the old conundrum: it wouldn't have been funded without the commercial aspects, but its main benefits turned out to be non-commercial and very much worth the funding. The net result, however, is much of the public feels like they've been swindled, because they were.
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keesje
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Tue May 16, 2017 1:08 pm

I see Concorde (Aérospatiale and BAC merging into Airbus) as cementing Anglo-French aerospace cooperation (although I got "conflicting" feedback from people involved) and adding greatly to European Aerospace R&D infrasctructure and technology 1965-1975. When German aerospace recovered (WW2 braindrain) & joined, steady growth until today started.
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BaconButty
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Tue May 16, 2017 1:23 pm

Revelation wrote:
It was sold to the public as having commercial potential but it never was reached and in hindsight it probably would have been better to not even included that in its mission statement, but it never would have gotten funded without the commercial angle. Same perhaps for Concorde?

As a child of the 60's myself (just) I don't think there was any need to sell this kind of thing to the public. In the UK at least, it needed to be sold to the treasury, and it was in-spite of, not because of, the business case.

Re. the "Committee on Civil Scientific Research and Development" 1962 report - essentially the review prior to the go ahead for the draft treaty later that year:
In summing up the Committees conclusion in October, the Chair wrote that if Britain joined France in this venture, it would not be on commercial grounds or to protect the industry. Instead, "It will be because we can take this in our stride, without interfering with our chances of success in other major technical projects to which we may attach equal or greater importance; and in the long run, it will not pay to withhold from industry the finance it needs for a natural extension of technological progress, provided we have the money to see it through".

(High-Speed Dreams: NASA and the Technopolitics of Supersonic Transportation, 1945–1999 by Erik Conway)

I don't know how much more explicit it can be. They knew there was no commercial case but went ahead anyway. The kind of thing that used to happen at the zenith of the western world before our decline at the hands of bankers. And if the was no commercial case* there's no point calling it a commercial failure, it's a non-sequitur. It has to be judged by other criteria.

* at least one intended to be given any credibility. And I'm focusing on the British angle, but I think it's safe to assume the French were no more naive.
Down with that sort of thing!
 
slcdeltarumd11
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Tue May 16, 2017 1:43 pm

I mean if a private corporation had created concorde they would have gone under. As others said commercially a total absolute failure. For technology and pride it was a huge success.

I wish i had gotten the chance to fly it as an aviation fan, but commercially too small a market.
 
TheSonntag
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Tue May 16, 2017 2:33 pm

Concorde was also a good example of transnational cooperation. As such, it was one of the foundations for Airbus and its industrial Impact therefore should not be forgotten.

The A300 was also a Commercial failure. Sometimes having a failure helps if the failure is minimal compared to the overall Picture.
 
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keesje
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Tue May 16, 2017 2:38 pm

In those times all these project were government funded.

Who do you think paid for the STT project ? Boeing :rotfl:

Now today, we are in a totally different environment, commercial open markets, where government interventions have no place.

Corporations and banks are responsible to fully fund R&D, development, infrastructure, sales and ramp up of their new products.

:innocent:
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SomebodyInTLS
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Tue May 16, 2017 3:19 pm

Revelation wrote:
SomebodyInTLS wrote:
Yes. All this BS about being such a commercial failure (which always seems to come from members of a certain background)

Thank you for the stereotyping. I'll do my best to live up to the standards you set.


Frankly, if you can read stereotyping into such a deliberately non-specific and unprovocative description(*) then the stereotype is all in your mind.

As for the comparison with the Space Shuttle, on that I can agree.

(*) I'm guessing at what "stereotype" you have in mind - but if my guess is correct then that wasn't what I meant at all.
Last edited by SomebodyInTLS on Tue May 16, 2017 3:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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dc9northwest
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Tue May 16, 2017 3:26 pm

Let me put it this way...


Once, we wanted to fly supersonic/to the moon/etc.

Now, we want nothing more than an extra cent saved.

Which is the failure?
 
F9Animal
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Tue May 16, 2017 5:00 pm

Wasn't the Concorde a money loser? I recall they were losing money on every flight. It would have been awesome if BAC had produced a NG!!!
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Arion640
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Re: Did the Concorde "fail"?

Tue May 16, 2017 5:28 pm

F9Animal wrote:
Wasn't the Concorde a money loser? I recall they were losing money on every flight. It would have been awesome if BAC had produced a NG!!!


Probably when the fuel went up before it's retirement was announced maybe.

Apart from that no, BA earned millions through concorde, also the uncalculated value added to the brand and free press promotion for the airline.

If it had lost money on every flight, it would of been pulled years before 2003.

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