DALLAS – Today in Aviation, Concorde, the world’s only supersonic passenger airliner, made its final flight in 2003.
Flight BA9010, operated by G-BOAF, the last Supersonic jet to roll off the production line, made a scenic flight from London Heathrow (LHR) over the Bay of Biscay before crossing low over the Clifton Suspension Bridge and touching down at Bristol Filton (FZO).
Concorde had first taken to the skies on March 2, 1969. Despite numerous airlines showing interest, only British Airways (BA) and Air France (AF) ever operated the jet.
G-BOAF was the first in the fleet to get the new BA ‘Utopia’ livery, as well as the Union Flag scheme known as Chatham Historic Dockyard. Originally planned to be used just on Concorde, all BA tailfins later adopted this scheme.
Because the ‘Alpha-Foxtrot’ was the first aircraft to sport this livery, it appears in the majority of BA’s promotional materials.
End of the Line
Things worsened for the supersonic jet when, on July 25, 2000, an AF Concorde (F-BTSC) crashed shortly after take off from Paris CDG. All 109 on board were killed. It became the type’s only crash.
The aircraft was immediately grounded as engineers made modifications. This included Kevlar lining to the wings, strengthened tires, and armor-plated wiring to ensure that an accident like this would never happen again.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, the first Concorde flight with passengers took to the skies for the first time after the grounding. Meanwhile, in America, the terrorist attacks that were unfolding would be the final nail in Concorde’s coffin.
Airbus announced that they would discontinue maintenance support for the type, so BA and AF had no choice but to announce Concorde’s retirement on April 10, 2003.
The final passenger flight touched down at LHR from JFK on October 24, 2003. From then, BA’s fleet of supersonic jets left for their new homes in museums around the world.
The Last Concorde
G-BOAF (216) was the final Concorde to be manufactured in 1978 and the last aircraft to be built at Filton, the world’s oldest aviation plant.
Concorde 216 was parked on Filton airfield for the winter months after decommissioning in December 2003 while its new exhibition space was being readied. In August 2004, the Concorde at Filton opened to the public.
‘Alpha Foxtrot’ was the final plane manufactured by the famed old Bristol Aircraft Business, with the famous Olympus 593 engines. The powerhouse of Concorde was built and developed by the old company until Rolls-Royce took it over.
Featured image: ‘Alpha Foxtrot’ was the first Concorde to appear in BA’s Chatham Historic Dockyard scheme. Photo:
Ken Fielding/https://www.flickr.com/photos/kenfielding, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons