DALLAS — Today in 2003, British Airways (BA) Concorde G-BOAD made its final flight from London Heathrow Airport (LHR) to New York’s JFK.
The flight was to deliver the aircraft to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, an American military and maritime history museum in New York City with a collection of museum ships. It was JFK’s very last Concorde movement.
To commemorate Concorde’s last flight, we list some noteworthy facts and figures about the supersonic airliner, which first flew on March 2, 1969.
An Aerospace Engineering Feat
Concorde was subjected to 5,000 hours of testing overseen by a team of about 250 BA engineers and relevant authorities before it was first certified for passenger flight, making it the most-tested aircraft ever.
Concorde’s first commercial flight was from LHR to Bahrain International Airport (BAH), BA300, on January 21, 1976 (Captain Norman Todd). Its last commercial flight was from New York JFK to LHR, BA2, on October 24, 2003 (Captain Mike Bannister).
Concorde had a capacity of 100 passengers and 2.5 tonnes of cargo. It had 100 seats, 40 in the front cabin and 60 in the rear cabin. BA’s Concorde flew just under 50,000 flights and carried over 2.5 million passengers supersonically.
With a take-off speed of 220 knots (250 mph) and a cruising speed of 1350mph – more than twice the speed of sound – a typical London to New York flight would take just under three and a half hours, compared to about eight hours for a subsonic flight.
Concorde had a takeoff speed of 250 mph (400 kph), a cruising speed of 1,350 mph (2,160k ph/Mach Two) up to 60,000 ft, and a landing speed of 187mph (300kph). The aircraft’s maximum takeoff weight was 408,000 lbs (185 tons). In November 1986, a BA Concorde flew around the world in 29 hours and 59 minutes, covering 28,238 miles.
Concorde used the most powerful pure jet engines used for commercial flight. The aircraft’s four engines, Rolls-Royce/SNECMA Olympus 593s, each producing 38,000lbs of thrust, used reheat technology, which added fuel to the final stage of the engine, producing the extra power required for take-off and the transition to supersonic flight.
Concorde made the fastest transatlantic crossing on February 7, 1996, flying from New York to London in 2 hours, 52 minutes, and 59 seconds. The aircraft’s fuel capacity was 26,286 Imperial gallons (119,500 liters) and its fuel consumption was 5,638 Imperial gallons (25,629 liters) per hour.
With a wingspan of 83 ft 8 in (25.5 m), a height of 37 ft 1 in (11.3 m), and a fuselage width of 9ft 6 in (2.9 m), Concorde was 203 ft 9 in (62.1 m) long and stretched between 6 and 10 inches in flight due to airframe heating. It was painted in specially developed white to accommodate these changes and dissipate the heat generated by supersonic flight.
British Airways withdrew Concorde on October 24, 2003, effectively ending the world’s only supersonic passenger service. G-BOAG operated the final scheduled commercial flight from JFK, BA002.
British Airways’ seven Concorde aircraft were later dispersed for preservation in Barbados (AE), Edinburgh (AA), Filton (AF), Manchester (AC), New York (AD), and Seattle (AG), with one plane (AB) remaining at LHR.
Featured image: British Airways Concorde G-BOAD. Photo: Rob Young from the United Kingdom, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons