a340guy
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Concorde Cockpit Modifications

Fri Feb 14, 2020 3:38 pm

So here is an interesting topic to get everyone's creative juices flowing before the weekend. I was reading somewhere that the original plan for British Airways (before 9/11 and the commercial aviation downturn) was to have the Concorde in service potentially as late as 2012-2015. If the aircraft were to stay in service for that long, extensive cockpit and avionics modifications would likely have been required to comply with changing regulations. What is/was the viability of having the Concorde flight deck replaced with glass LCD units and the flight crew reduced to 2? Boeing was able to do this somewhat affordably with the MD-10 by automating fuel, hydraulic, and electric systems and installing a computer to convert analog signals to digital for the new flight displays. Was this more likely, or was the retention of a flight engineer with updated avionics more likely?

In addition to this, does anyone know of any other previously planned aircraft modifications if the aircraft were to have stayed in service later than 2003? I am aware of the project rocket cabin upgrades that were planned, but I am specifically referring to avionics, engine, and flight control/air systems upgrades. Thanks!
 
BravoOne
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Re: Concorde Cockpit Modifications

Fri Feb 14, 2020 5:39 pm

There was a plan to redeign the 727-200 ADV into a 2 man flight deck. Recall seeing the proposal, but can think of the organization behind it. Maybe Valsan? I don't think Boeing was a willing participant what with the potential loss of 737 sales. This would have been somtime in the very late 80's to early 90's time period.

Also there was a DC8 mod that eliminated the FE. I believe Air Canada was involed in that project.
 
a340guy
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Re: Concorde Cockpit Modifications

Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:11 pm

That is interesting! I wasn't aware of the 727 and DC-8 projects. I am guessing that eliminating the FE is probably "possible" on every mainstream airliner from the 1960s-on. I was just particularly curious about Concorde because its design, construction, and systems layout are so different from other airliners.
 
BravoOne
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Re: Concorde Cockpit Modifications

Fri Feb 14, 2020 10:09 pm

Since there were so few Concordes built I would think the cost benefits would be pretty small.

Interesting to note that the KC135 does not have a formal FE position. one would think it to would have been a candidate for eliminating the FE as well. The FARs specified an FE for aircraft with a gWT in excess of 80,000LBS as I recall and not based on complexity alone.
 
Max Q
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Re: Concorde Cockpit Modifications

Sat Feb 15, 2020 2:31 am

No way could you eliminate the flight engineer in Concorde, have you looked at that panel ?

The FE was indispensable, not only performing the usual system monitoring and operation but integral to supersonic flight and the transition to and from, moving the CG, nozzle operation etc

Automating that panel was just out of the question

Just installing TCAS was a significant engineering challenge
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


GGg
 
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longhauler
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Re: Concorde Cockpit Modifications

Sat Feb 15, 2020 3:30 am

BravoOne wrote:
Also there was a DC8 mod that eliminated the FE. I believe Air Canada was involed in that project.


It was actually proposed before the aircraft was built.

Trans-Canada Air Lines and Douglas engineered a two man cockpit for the DC-8. A lot of the gauges and systems controls were placed on the lower forward panels. The F/O seat was placed on rails that slid back abeam the S/O panel to control things that could not be moved.

The Department of Transport (pre Transport Canada), stepped in during construction and would not allow it. However a lot of modifications could not be changed and it was why the TCA/Air Canada DC-8 cockpit was unlike any other. All TCA/AC DC-8s, right up to the final DC-8-63, had this unique cockpit. They never were however, flown with anything less than a 3 or 4 man crew.

It’s not as crazy as it sounds. Previously, TCA had designed and flew a 2 man cockpit for both the Viscount and the Vanguard where all others until then were 3 man cockpits.
Just because I stopped arguing, doesn't mean I think you are right. It just means I gave up!
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Concorde Cockpit Modifications

Sat Feb 15, 2020 3:51 am

Was the Viscoint a three-crew plane?
 
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longhauler
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Re: Concorde Cockpit Modifications

Sat Feb 15, 2020 5:37 am

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
Was the Viscoint a three-crew plane?

The original BEA 700s were.
Just because I stopped arguing, doesn't mean I think you are right. It just means I gave up!
 
cpd
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Re: Concorde Cockpit Modifications

Sat Feb 15, 2020 12:07 pm

Max Q wrote:
No way could you eliminate the flight engineer in Concorde, have you looked at that panel ?

The FE was indispensable, not only performing the usual system monitoring and operation but integral to supersonic flight and the transition to and from, moving the CG, nozzle operation etc

Automating that panel was just out of the question

Just installing TCAS was a significant engineering challenge


There was certainly a plan of thought to update the flight deck, but it didn’t go forward.

Obviously the mods would have been costly and for what benefit? What might have been worthwhile is a better lateral navigation method rendering the archaic 1-9 positions of the INS rendundant.

I don’t know of engine upgrades beyond the more powerful non-reheat version of the 593.
 
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747classic
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Re: Concorde Cockpit Modifications

Sat Feb 15, 2020 12:59 pm

The only limiting factor (except noise !!) for prolonged Concorde operation were the future navigation requirements.
Around 1995 the first aircraft with FANS 1 was the 747-400
Upgrades to FANS 1 were implemented at older aircaft, starting in 1998 with the 747 classic series, also equipped with a flight deck developed at the same time as Concorde.

The upgrade was centred on Canadian Marconi's (CMC's) CMA-900 FMS/GPS and included Litton's LTN-92 inertial-reference system (INS) and an electronic flight-instrument system (EFIS) using Smiths Industries' 5ATI-size LCDs which replace the conventional electromechanical instruments.
Operating a twin over the ocean, you're always one engine failure from a total emergency.
 
GDB
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Re: Concorde Cockpit Modifications

Sat Feb 15, 2020 1:42 pm

Max Q wrote:
No way could you eliminate the flight engineer in Concorde, have you looked at that panel ?

The FE was indispensable, not only performing the usual system monitoring and operation but integral to supersonic flight and the transition to and from, moving the CG, nozzle operation etc

Automating that panel was just out of the question

Just installing TCAS was a significant engineering challenge


Yes, that TCAS, mainly the aerials, what with the much more extreme temps on the fuselage skin in supercruise. Had to get new, specialised ones made, 'off the shelf' and Concorde rarely went together.
Which also meant something else had to be moved.

As stated, too few aircraft and even then, no spare to do what would be a very extensive trials programme. Meaning a line aircraft would be taken out of service for it. Neither BA nor AF could do that without disruption the operation. In maint schedules as well as the service itself.

And 2012-2015 was a pipe dream, yes potentially but the reality was more about costs rising, experienced people retiring, vendors still being there for small orders often many years apart.
So even before AF4590 and worse still for the aircraft, 9/11, few involved that I knew thought it would go much beyond 2006, 'be nice to do 30 years of operation' was a common thought.
Maybe with a big reduction in the charter operation nearer the end of the decade might have been attainable.
In other words, once the support costs started to exceed the profit.
 
BravoOne
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Re: Concorde Cockpit Modifications

Sat Feb 15, 2020 3:30 pm

Stepping back even further in time, some B377 Strats were build with a flight deck that allowed the pilots to operate the FE panel which was mounted on a swinging panel that turned so that it was accessible to the seated pilots. I believe UAL and perhaps NW had this feature. When UAL sold their Strats to BOAC it costa bundle to reconfigure these aircraft to the more tradition FE station configuration.
 
cpd
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Re: Concorde Cockpit Modifications

Sun Feb 16, 2020 4:37 am

GDB wrote:
Max Q wrote:
No way could you eliminate the flight engineer in Concorde, have you looked at that panel ?

The FE was indispensable, not only performing the usual system monitoring and operation but integral to supersonic flight and the transition to and from, moving the CG, nozzle operation etc

Automating that panel was just out of the question

Just installing TCAS was a significant engineering challenge


Yes, that TCAS, mainly the aerials, what with the much more extreme temps on the fuselage skin in supercruise. Had to get new, specialised ones made, 'off the shelf' and Concorde rarely went together.
Which also meant something else had to be moved.

As stated, too few aircraft and even then, no spare to do what would be a very extensive trials programme. Meaning a line aircraft would be taken out of service for it. Neither BA nor AF could do that without disruption the operation. In maint schedules as well as the service itself.

And 2012-2015 was a pipe dream, yes potentially but the reality was more about costs rising, experienced people retiring, vendors still being there for small orders often many years apart.
So even before AF4590 and worse still for the aircraft, 9/11, few involved that I knew thought it would go much beyond 2006, 'be nice to do 30 years of operation' was a common thought.
Maybe with a big reduction in the charter operation nearer the end of the decade might have been attainable.
In other words, once the support costs started to exceed the profit.


Do you know if the CMA-900 was to be used in Concorde, or was I misreading the reply above and it was really intended for the classic 747 models?

I’m guessing the CMA-900 would have needed significant changes to work with Concorde as it doesn’t do VNAV in the conventional way of most airliners. Well not at high speed anyway.
 
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747classic
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Re: Concorde Cockpit Modifications

Sun Feb 16, 2020 6:40 am

cpd wrote:

Do you know if the CMA-900 was to be used in Concorde, or was I misreading the reply above and it was really intended for the classic 747 models?

I’m guessing the CMA-900 would have needed significant changes to work with Concorde as it doesn’t do VNAV in the conventional way of most airliners. Well not at high speed anyway.


The CMA-900 was installed in several conventional subsonic aircraft, starting with KLM's 742/3 fleet in 1998.
I don't know if the CMA-900 could be adapted for Concorde (and at what costs !), but i am pretty sure that the CMC sales team made a visit to BA and Concorde maintenance.
I encountered this sales team with my former employer KLM (now retired).

Note : Vnav was nice to have, but the real benefit was the increased navigational accuracy, needed to satisfy the (then) future legal requirements.
Operating a twin over the ocean, you're always one engine failure from a total emergency.
 
GDB
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Re: Concorde Cockpit Modifications

Sun Feb 16, 2020 11:42 am

News article from 1995;
https://www.flightglobal.com/concorde-w ... 98.article

Just before my time on the operation, the challenges of this apparently minor if vital upgrade were still fresh however.
 
Max Q
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Re: Concorde Cockpit Modifications

Sun Feb 16, 2020 11:42 pm

GDB wrote:
News article from 1995;
https://www.flightglobal.com/concorde-w ... 98.article

Just before my time on the operation, the challenges of this apparently minor if vital upgrade were still fresh however.



-60 to + 135C was quite a temperature range for that antenna retrofit

Concorde was an incredible aircraft, such an understatement to say it was an engineering masterpiece.

Neil Armstrong said it was an achievement on par with landing on the moon and I agree
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


GGg
 
cpd
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Re: Concorde Cockpit Modifications

Mon Feb 17, 2020 12:51 am

Max Q wrote:
GDB wrote:
News article from 1995;
https://www.flightglobal.com/concorde-w ... 98.article

Just before my time on the operation, the challenges of this apparently minor if vital upgrade were still fresh however.



-60 to + 135C was quite a temperature range for that antenna retrofit

Concorde was an incredible aircraft, such an understatement to say it was an engineering masterpiece.

Neil Armstrong said it was an achievement on par with landing on the moon and I agree


It could even experience much colder than that, depending on where it was flying.
 
Bellerophon
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Re: Concorde Cockpit Modifications

Mon Feb 17, 2020 7:20 pm

Max Q wrote:
... No way could you eliminate the flight engineer in Concorde, have you looked at that panel ? ...


Spot on!

MaxQ wrote:
... Just installing TCAS was a significant engineering challenge ...


I regard TCAS as perhaps the most valuable invention to take place during my career as a pilot.

However, it was just a little ironic that, after our engineers had worked hard and long to overcome all the difficulties and problems associated with fitting TCAS to Concorde, the system actually inhibited itself from issuing Resolution Advisories (RAs) or any aural messages whilst in supersonic flight!

Best Regards

Bellerophon
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Concorde Cockpit Modifications

Mon Feb 17, 2020 9:08 pm

Speedbird 2, present position direct to LINND, climb in the block FL550-
600, accelerate Mach 2.0.


Considering Concorde accelerated to supersonic in Class A airspace, then were 10,000’ above even most bizjets, inhibiting TCAS RAs wasn’t a great hindrance. :D
 
Max Q
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Re: Concorde Cockpit Modifications

Mon Feb 17, 2020 11:16 pm

Bellerophon wrote:
Max Q wrote:
... No way could you eliminate the flight engineer in Concorde, have you looked at that panel ? ...


Spot on!

MaxQ wrote:
... Just installing TCAS was a significant engineering challenge ...


I regard TCAS as perhaps the most valuable invention to take place during my career as a pilot.

However, it was just a little ironic that, after our engineers had worked hard and long to overcome all the difficulties and problems associated with fitting TCAS to Concorde, the system actually inhibited itself from issuing Resolution Advisories (RAs) or any aural messages whilst in supersonic flight!

Best Regards

Bellerophon



Very interesting and thanks for your enlightened input Bphon


While you’re here I have a couple of Concorde questions if you don’t mind


Reading through the normal departure and acceleration profiles I believe that normally you would level off at 28000 feet and maintain .95 Mach until reaching a point where any boom would not be heard on land


Once at this point you would receive a clearance to accelerate and start a supersonic Cruise climb with an upper limit of FL600


I understand at this point afterburners were selected to go through Mach one and remained on until reaching 1.7 in the mid forty’s at which point they were no longer needed


My question is about this transonic acceleration, at 28000 and .95 , was that close to VMO / MMO at that level ?and after engaging reheat did you stay at that altitude until through Mach one or immediately start a cruise climb ?


In other words was the transonic acceleration in level flight or in a slight climb selected as one of the modes on the afcs ?

And another, at certain remote airports when departing and you were immediately over the ocean with no boom concerns, for example, Barbados could you leave the after burners engaged and go immediately into an unrestricted climb reaching M1 much earlier ?
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


GGg
 
Bellerophon
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Re: Concorde Cockpit Modifications

Wed Feb 19, 2020 2:49 am

Max Q

... I believe that normally you would level off at 28000 feet and maintain .95 Mach until reaching a point where any boom would not be heard on land. Once at this point you would receive a clearance to accelerate and start a supersonic Cruise climb with an upper limit of FL600. I understand at this point afterburners were selected to go through Mach one and remained on until reaching 1.7 in the mid forty’s at which point they were no longer needed ...

All correct, well remembered!


... My question is about this transonic acceleration, at 28000 and .95 , was that close to VMO / MMO at that level ? ...

Yes, VMO at FL280 was 400 kts IAS and from memory M0.95 would have been about 378 kts IAS.


... after engaging reheat did you stay at that altitude until through Mach one or immediately start a cruise climb ? ...

Climb immediately - and not a slight climb or a cruise climb - otherwise you would exceed VMO very quickly and very significantly!


... when departing and you were immediately over the ocean with no boom concerns, for example, Barbados could you leave the after burners engaged and go immediately into an unrestricted climb reaching M1 much earlier ? ...

No.

ATC clearance from Barbados had no noise abatement requirement and (usually) permitted an unrestricted climb with no speed control. However the afterburners were turned off at 500 feet, much earlier than during a typical noise abatement departure at other airfields. The total fuel flow on take-off using the afterburners was prodigious, usually in excess of 27,000 US gallons per hour or 50 lbs per second, so you can see why we used them for as short a time as possible.

They went back on for the transonic acceleration, slightly earlier than normal, around FL250 and M0.93 (to allow for the fact that she was climbing) and went off at M1.7 as normal.

What was slightly unusual out of Barbados was that, after the throttles were fully opened by the handling pilot at the start of the take-off roll, they stayed there, fully opened, untouched, for around 3h 30m until the F/E retarded them at the start of the decel/descent into London.



GalaxyFlyer

... Concorde accelerated to supersonic in Class A airspace, then were 10,000’ above even most bizjets, inhibiting TCAS RAs wasn’t a great hindrance ... :D

Yes, although it would have been interesting to have received a "CLIMB" RA at 60,000 ft. :eek:


Best Regards to all

Bellerophon
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Concorde Cockpit Modifications

Wed Feb 19, 2020 3:46 am

If I remember your KJFK description on PPRUNE correctly, the climb rate during the acceleration thru transonic would have been on the order of 2500-3000 feet per minute.


GF
 
Max Q
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Re: Concorde Cockpit Modifications

Thu Feb 20, 2020 6:16 am

Thanks again for the very interesting and enlightening reply Bphon
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


GGg

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