General, Research, Technology

The history of the most famous plane in the world and why it no longer exists

Many people often ask why we are not nowwe fly at supersonic speed in civil aviation. There is no unequivocal answer to this partly rhetorical question, since too many factors have led to this state of affairs. Perhaps, over time, supersonic will return to the lives of ordinary travelers, but it is too early to talk about it. Even despite the existence of samples that actually flew more than half a century ago, now everything is as it is. All this is very difficult, but at the same time interesting. In this article we will talk about what the plane that everyone knew was. If someone else is confused in the names and may not remember under which model number the supersonic passenger TU was produced, then “Concorde” will be remembered by everyone.

There are no more such planes. It's a pity…


  • 1 Who made Concorde
    • 1.1 First supersonic aircraft
  • 2 When Concorde appeared
    • 2.1 Concorde Features
  • 3 How much did it cost to fly on the Concorde
  • 4 At what height and at what speed did the Concorde fly
  • 5 The cabin of a supersonic aircraft
  • 6 Why does a supersonic aircraft drop nose
  • 7 Why airplanes don't fly faster
  • 8 Why there are no more supersonic passenger planes
    • 8.1 Concorde crash in 2000
  • 9 Where are the Concords now

Who made Concorde

Around the mid-forties, worldleaders of that time, such as the USA, USSR, Germany (still Nazi), Great Britain and France received technologies that could power aircraft with jet thrustinstead of screws. Such technologies helped create a fundamentally new generation of military aircraft, which had full advantage in the air over propeller-driven counterparts due to their speed and maneuverability.

All this led to a massive transition tojet thrust not only in military, but also in civil aviation. As a result, all aircraft began to fly faster, and after just 10 years, around the mid-fifties, the first aircraft began to appear that could fly faster than the speed of sound. Again, they were originally small aircraft for the needs of the army, but the powers of that time did not miss the opportunity to create a civilian aircraft that could fly, overtaking sound waves.

The speed of sound in air (or other gas) is strongdepends on its density, temperature, suspension and other parameters. It is generally accepted that the speed of sound in air is about 331 meters per second, or about 1190 kilometers per hour.

The first supersonic aircraft

The first supersonic aircraft is considered North American F-100 Super Saber, the first flight of which took place in May 1953. In the fall of the same year, he entered service with the American army.

North American F-100 Super Saber. The first supersonic aircraft in the world.

The Super Saber had a speed of approximately Mach 1.3. The Mach number is the ratio of the speed of an aircraft to the speed of sound under a given environmental conditions. Simply put, at the same height. That is, the Mach number can change depending on the altitude and the same number of kilometers per hour will correspond to different Mach numbers at different altitudes.

If you do not complicate, then Mach 1.3 is about 1550kilometers per hour. Modern models fly at speeds up to 3,500 kilometers per hour, and records on special models exceed 10,000 kilometers per hour.

The first passenger supersonic aircraft asonce became TU-144, which took off on December 31, 1968. We will talk about him in a separate article, which you will definitely not miss if you subscribe to our Telegram news channel. Let's get back to European supersonic for now.

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When Concorde appeared

The first project to create a supersonica passenger plane, Great Britain and France were hatching back in 1956. Later, they were the ones who combined their efforts and developments to create that very dream plane. Unlike the current Dreamliner (Boeing 787), the name of which also translates as "dream plane", Concorde was truly a masterpiece and a breakthrough.

Compared to the Concorde, the Boeing 787 is not a dream plane.

All parts of the aircraft were assembled in France or Great Britain, except for the landing gear. They were entrusted to Spain

He made its first flight on March 2, 1969, and already in May of the same year was presented atInternational Air Show in Le Bourget. The aircraft was developed by two countries, historical relations between which can hardly be called smooth. This is probably why it got its name, which in French means "Consent".

Concorde characteristics

  • Crew: 3 people (commander, pilot, flight engineer)
  • Passenger capacity: 92 (Air France) or 100 (British Airways)
  • Length: 56.24 (61.66) m
  • Wingspan: 25.57 m
  • Height: 12.19 (11.58) m
  • Wing area: 358.6 m²
  • Empty weight: 78,700 kg
  • Maximum takeoff weight: 187,700 kg
  • Payload weight: 12,000 kg
  • Engines: 4 × TRDF Rolls-Royce / SNECMA "Olympus" 593
  • Fuel consumption: 20,500 kg / h at Mach 2.0 at an altitude of 18 km
  • Specific fuel consumption - 110.0 g / passenger-km
  • Cruising speed: 2,200 km / h.
  • Practical range: 6470 km (with a load of 8845 kg at M = 2.05 at an altitude of 16,000 m).
  • Ferry range: 7250 km.
  • Service ceiling: 18,300 m.
  • Rate of climb: 25.41 m / s.

How much did the Concorde flight cost

Despite the initial success of the model and itsrevolutionary, it soon became clear that from an economic point of view, it is completely unprofitable. The plane flew mainly on the route from Paris to New York and back. Travel time took only three hours, but during this time the aircraft burned up to 8 tons of fuel per ton of payload. Roughly speaking, it took 8 tons of fuel to deliver 10 people with one suitcase each to their destination.

8 tons of fuel to deliver one ton of payload - that is its economy.

At the same time, the plane demanded a more expensive andlong service. The Concorde operated in more challenging conditions than conventional liners, and in addition to routine maintenance, the strength of the structure had to be checked, sometimes even using X-ray equipment. All this led to long downtime and even on the ground the plane demanded a lot of money for its maintenance. Not to mention the purchase cost of the aircraft itself, which was also much higher than that of a conventional jet.

The cost was high only in the beginning, whenit turned out that the planes are very difficult to get profit from them, they were given for a symbolic price. French airlines bought them for one franc, British - for 1 pound. But they took over obligation to operate aircraft and sell them only at the same symbolic price

At various times, the flight on the Concorde costin different ways, but we can talk about the average price of 10-11 thousand dollars. That was the price of a ticket from Paris to New York and back. Even now, the amount seems very large. Then it was a fortune and not everyone could afford to regularly fly on business on such an aircraft. Many passengers took a ticket for it just as an attraction.

Would you fly this handsome guy for 10+ thousand dollars?

When the Concorde made its last voyage, its auction prices rose to 60 thousand dollars.

At what altitude and at what speed did the Concorde fly

The ability to fly across the Atlantic in just three hours was achieved due to the fact that the plane accelerated to a speed of about 2,200 kilometers per hour. He did it at an altitude of 18,000 - 18,500 meters... Thanks to flights at such a high altitude, the Concorde could afford not to zip along the air corridors, wasting time, but to move along the shortest straight line.

During a long flight at high speed, the temperature of the nose of the aircraft could rise to 130 degrees Celsius, and at the tips of the wing it could reach 100 degrees

Moving at such a high speed would notpossible while maintaining the traditional aerodynamic design. Since air resistance is proportional to the square of speed, the structure must be much more robust. When the speed increases almost threefold, the resistance increases by about ninefold. Also, aerodynamics should not be in the form of a drop, so that the air flows around it, but in the form of a wedge to literally pierce the air without creating a zone of increased pressure in front of the nose.

It is this shape of the glider that allows you to overcome the speed of sound.

The wings should also be more compact, soas at such a speed, there is enough lift. As a result, they were made in the form of triangles shifted back. If we talk more from the technical point of view, then this aircraft layout is called "tailless" and it was made with a low delta wing ogival form (intermediate between the cone and the ellipsoid). It so happened to make them more streamlined and more durable, but there was one serious disadvantage of such a layout.

If you do not go into the intricacies of a complex fuelConcorde system, we can only say that it consisted of 17 tanks with a total volume of 119 280 liters. During the transition to supersonic, the fuel moved between the tanks through the balancing chambers. Then the speed increased and the fuel moved again. After that, the plane picked up maximum speed.

Supersonic aircraft cabin

Initially, there were three layout optionsthe Concorde's cabin - from 108 to 144 passengers. As a result, it received certification for the transportation of 128 passengers, but such a layout was never used. All planes originally carried 108 people, but British Airways and Air France operated the cabin to have exactly 100 people.

This is how the Concorde salon looked modest.

It couldn't fit anymore, since it width was only 2.62 meters... This is even less than that of the TU-134. As a result, there were only two chairs in each row to the left and right of the aisle. At the same time, the Concorde pressurized cabin occupied 85% of its total volume.

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Why does a supersonic aircraft drop nose

The design of the nose of supersonic passenger aircraft is not made for beauty. The drooping nose has a very important function. Only thanks to him it is possible to land the plane.

Including due to insufficient lifting forcewing of such an aircraft at low speed, before landing it was necessary to turn up the nose very high. In that case, the pilots simply could not visually control the approach to the runway. Sitting blindly was also a bad idea and therefore had to get out of position.

The landing approach had to be just like that.

During taxiing and takeoff, the nose cone loweredjust five degrees. That was enough. When landing and approaching, it deviated by 12.5 degrees. There was also additional glazing. It rose in the main flight configuration with Mach numbers greater than 0.8.

The flip-up nose helped to make the nasalthe fairing did not block the pilots' view. In addition, it was possible to make them look at the strip through more vertical glass. Because of this, there was less distortion and the safety was much higher.

As a result, the nose dropped when it was not needed. The aerodynamics of the aircraft in this version left much to be desired, but everything was corrected when the nose was raised. He gave the structure the desired shape and made the cabin lines more streamlined.

Interestingly, to ensure a safe landingwith such a large angle of attack as in the Concorde, it was made higher (the height of the racks was 3.5 meters) and we had to slightly change the service scheme at the airport. The plane was even jokingly called a heron.

That's why they called him a heron.

Why planes don't fly faster

Considering all that has been said and the fact that supersonicaviation has been around for more than half a century, many people ask why planes cannot fly faster. Even without talking about supersonic airplanes, can't you just take a regular airplane and make it fly faster?

You can, and they are able to overcome those very800-900 kilometers per hour, which often becomes the cruising speed of conventional liners. But there is no point in doing it. Costs will rise significantly, and travel time will be reduced by literally 10 minutes. Especially if the flight is not long.

They even wrote books about Concorde, but it turned out to be not what people need.

All due to the fact that the plane does not fly onmaximum speed starting from the very separation from the strip. It picks up speed gradually as it takes off and climbs. Only at flight level is the speed adjusted to that which is the maximum in this flight. Before landing, it also gradually begins to be discarded. As a result, flying at a higher speed can be compared to standing in a traffic jam for 10 kilometers, in the middle of which there is a small free piece. It is not so important whether you will go there at a speed of 90 or 100 kilometers per hour.

On some flights, however, planes cross over 1,000 kilometers per hour and even rise to higher echelons,up to 12,000 meters, but this is the exception rather than the rule. Typically, jet passenger aircraft fly at an altitude of 10,000 - 11,000 meters and at a speed of 850-900 kilometers per hour.

Why there are no more supersonic passenger planes

Although the TU-144 was in many ways better than the Concorde, it quickly dropped out. I will talk about this in a separate article. Boeing project for the organization of supersonic passenger transportation and did not reach its realization... Concorde just became unnecessary.

Boeing tried, too, but failed.

In fact, there might be a demand for it, butAirlines grew more and more impatient with how much money they spent on transportation, often simply not paying for it. As a result, a tragic circumstance led to the end of the history of the most famous passenger supersonic aircraft.

The collapse of the Concorde in 2000

The only one to date (unlikelythat they will start flying again) the accident of the Concorde occurred on July 25, 2000 - 20 years ago. As a result of the incident, the plane caught fire and fell on the hotel, which was located near the airport.

This is what the only disaster of the Concorde looked like.

The investigation established that the accident was due toa piece of a wheel that remained on the runway after DC-10 takeoff. This piece pierced the wing of the Concorde, which was taking off and as a result of this a fire broke out, the plane “lost” two engines and could no longer provide itself with sufficient thrust in takeoff mode. Although, she still would not have saved, given the fire.

For so many years of work, there was only one disaster with the participation of Concorde, and that was not a constructive miscalculation, but a coincidence

The crash killed 100 passengers, 9crew members and 4 people on the ground. The accident further crippled the already hazy future of the aircraft, and by 2003 the operation of this aircraft finally ceased.

Where are the Concords now

The Concorde was an iconic aircraft that for 23years of operation carried about 4 million passengers around the world and he simply could not retire ingloriously. The last flight for many was, as they say, "with tears in their eyes." Now these planes can only be found in museums and on pedestals.

Even now, few people can enter the Concorde's cockpit, and it was interesting for its time.

A total of 20 Concordes were produced and all of them except twoare located in museums or at special sites. You will not be able to look only at the board, with the serial number 211, which was disassembled for parts for other Concords and board 203, which crashed in Paris.

As for the serial numbers, those thatstart with "0" are prototypes. Pre-production samples start at ”1”. If at the beginning of the number there is a "2", for example, 203, then these are mass-produced cars

Approximately two thirds of the aircraft were in operation before2003 year. Now the "youngest" aircraft is in the Imperial War Museum (Dasford, UK). Its flight time is only 632 hours (from 1971 to 1977). The most "seen" board is in the Museum of Sea, Air and Space Interpeed (New York, USA). This aircraft had flown 23 397 hours between 1976 and 2003.

Concorde at Charles de Gaulle airport. He still wants to fly ...

One of the most famous Concords on display now welcomes travelers at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. And the very first Concorde, released on March 2, 1969 under number 001, flew only 812 hours and is in the Aerospace Museum in Le Bourget, France.