It’s time to remind you all again about Concorde! It was a great aircraft and one of it’s pilots has been back to remember the good times. Captain Mike Bannister, British Airways’ former chief Concorde pilot, has returned to Heathrow to inspect the iconic supersonic aircraft, which is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its first commercial flight. Following his walk-around, Captain Bannister declared:
“She’s looking ship-shape and remarkably good 40 years on! I’m delighted that, parked in her position at the end of runway 27L, millions of customers arriving at and leaving Heathrow continue to have the opportunity to catch a glimpse of one of the great loves of my life.”
Alpha Bravo, one of seven Concordes operated by British Airways, remains in top condition thanks to the efforts of a new generation of engineers who were still at school when Concorde retired in 2003.
These apprentice and graduate engineers have learned how to maintain and protect the airframe of Concorde under the watchful eye of senior engineers and retired Concorde specialists.
Keith Rose, British Airways’ general manager of engineering, who is in charge of the Concorde project, said: “Working on Concorde not only gives our graduate and apprentice engineers the chance to expand their skills by working on a unique aircraft type, it also allows them to be part of the extraordinary heritage of British Airways, keeping this world-renowned aircraft in excellent showcase condition.”
Concorde’s first commercial British Airways flight took-off from Heathrow on January 21 1976, bound for Bahrain. From 1976 to 2003, the aircraft’s sleek fuselage and slender delta wing was the silhouette to spot as she climbed out toward or returned from her usual destinations of New York or Barbados.
And there are few better avgeek experiences than enjoying a fried breakfast in the Compass Centre as Concorde roared past during its very impressive take-off.
The seven British Airways Concordes are now displayed around the world, and it is estimated that more than one million people have visited them over the past 12 years.
While the retirement of Concorde was a sad day for all aviation enthusiasts, the aircraft has left a lasting legacy. Not only can she still be visited, and admired, but the many advances that first allowed Concorde to fly have since found their way onto today’s aircraft. For example, composite materials akin to those found on Concorde are now used to improve efficiency of aircraft such as the modern Boeing 787 Dreamliner; and high-pressure hydraulics, designed for Concorde have been adapted for use in the world’s largest aircraft, the Airbus A380.