CONCORDE TODAY

Are we saving Concorde, what is the condition of the Concordes airframes today, what’s the truth behind all those stories since 2003, and where are the Concordes located now?

“I felt quite emotional as I taxied the Concorde out on to the runway,”

Barbara Harmer, The world’s first female Concorde pilot

Since the decommissioning of both the BA and Air France fleets, with the exception of a few Concordes, the story has not been a happy one.

Since 2003, there has been serious damage caused to some of the Concordes, and in addition to the damage there have been reports of mould on seating, and corrosion to the airframes. Items such as seatbelts have even been stolen from some of the aircraft by souvenir hunters during tours, which have cause one museum in the UK to remove all seatbelts from the aircraft altogether.

The wild ridiculous stories


But since 2003, there have also been some really unfair stories spread around the Concorde world regarding both the two airlines and the various museums. These are nothing more than wild ridiculous stories based on fantasy, and spread by individuals with nothing more than trouble making, self promoting motives behind them, some of which we will take a further look at on this page and on the related Concorde airframe pages (The links for these pages are below).

Some of these wild ridiculous stories have stated that the three British Airways Concordes that were placed overseas, had as a condition of their donation to the museums their forward fuel tanks filled with concrete to provide ballast, and to stop anyone flying these aircrafts again. Some individuals feel so strongly even today that this act was duly carried out, and mainly with G-BOAD which is located in New York. Let’s look at some of the facts that place clear doubt on this unreliable claim…

The museums would have strongly objected to this process being carried out to the aircraft, on the basis that pouring wet concrete into the fuel tanks is likely to start corrosion at short notice, a layer of concrete at the bottom of a tank would make it impossible to check for corrosion over the longer term, and precisely in those locations where it would be most likely to occur, because of humidity accumulating in the bottom of the fuselage. This would also have been a very complicated and very messy procedure.

For a completely empty Concorde, the centre of gravity is located only just in front of the main landing gear, and very little weight rests on the nose gear.

G-BOAD on display in New York City

Hence, with very strong side winds, the nose gear can start slipping sideways as the aircraft ‘weathervanes’ into the wind, or the aircraft could even be blown backwards and sit on its tail. With enough visitors in the rear cabin and none up front, the aircraft will also tilt backwards and become a ‘tail-sitter’ (this did happen a few times during Concorde’s in-service history). Also we have to remember that G-BOAD in New York, does not currently have her engines fitted, they were removed at JFK. But for a Concorde that does still have her engines fitted the solution is to put enough ballast at the front of the plane, in the forward baggage hold. This could be sandbags, or concrete blocks (both far easier to handlethan wet concrete) and this is what is likely to have been done. For example G-BOAF at Filton has lead as ballast forward baggage hold. Also during a visit to one of the Concordes, you may have noticed that the aircraft is strapped to the ground with cables, plus in many cases the number of visitors on the aircraft at any one time is strictly controlled and in normally you are not allowed in the rear passenger cabin.

Notes

* Removing the engines will remove about 12 tons of weight, but because their individual centre of gravity is only just aft of the main landing gear, ballasting is still required, G-BOAD has had her engines removed.

* G-BOAB which is still at Heathrow was ballasted, not with sandbags or concrete blocks, but with several tons of ancient British Airways in-flight magazines… not a good idea because in the long run they can turn into a soggy mess, but she also had no engines fitted.

I have personal spoken with Directors of BA, and they have made it very clear that they are proud of their Concordes. Due to the fact that these aircraft were going on public display, both airlines had the legal and moral responsibility to make sure that their aircraft were made safe for the public to visit, although there are the usual detractors to this process with dubious self-serving interests, that have caused more damage than good for the museums and airlines. Some of the hardest and most unfair attacks have been levelled towards the Intrepid Museum in New York, the home of G-BOAD, and the Concorde Trust in Filton UK, which is seeking to build a new museum for G-BOAF.

The decommissioning Process


G-BOAD being decommissioned at New York JFK

Looking after a Concorde is a massive undertaking for any museum, and let us remember that these museums adore their Concordes, they worked hard so see them on display at their various museums. But let us return to the beginning in 2003, and follow the story through to the present time.

All the Concordes were decommissioned by British Airways and Air France back in 2003. This action was necessary as the aircraft were being fully prepared as public museum exhibits, and therefore the airlines needed to make them safe for the public to visit, these procedures were not carried out in any attempt to damage or destroy the aircraft, as have been stated by some individuals on other websites. The decommissioning processes carried out to the fleets should not be not be confused with the grounding of both fleets following the Paris crash in 2000, when they were “mothballed” and not decommissioned, during this time they were live aircraft ready to be put back into service once the modifications had been completed.

G-BOAC on display at Manchester Airport

The decommissioning process for both the fleets included the draining of all the remaining fuel and hydraulic fluids from the aircraft following their last relocation flights, although G-BOAC, currently located at Manchester, UK, didn’t have all her M2V hydraulic fluid drained by the decommission crews. But most Concordes still have to this day a small amount of these fluids remaining onboard; as it was impossible remove all fluids from the aircraft. If you visit one of the Concordes at a museum you may have even seen some signs of these fluids on the ground beneath the aircraft, and also on the underside causing paint damage as it leaks out, this is not to be confused with rust as some have claimed it to be.

The airlines also removed all pyrotechnic from the aircraft, such as those used in the R.A.T. This also implies that venting and/or removing of all the high-pressure vessels, such as the emergency slides, fire bottles, oxygen systems and nitrogen tanks were carried out. The British Airways Concordes, had all their electric ground power connections removed from the aircraft, this sound far worse than it actually is, it’s just a case of unplugging a unit on the avionic racks on the flight deck, known as the Ground Power Protection Unit GPPU. The reason stated for this action was to avoid incompetent amateurs in the future trying to restore ground power back on to the aircraft, and causing fires to start, and therefore this action was carried out to protect the Concordes, not to damage them.

G-BOAF during restoration the work of 2010/2011

Unfortunately for the British Concordes, none of the aircraft were stored inside after their retirement in 2003, which raises some real issues regarding possible airframe corrosion, but lets remember that the airframes had corrosion problems during their service life, mainly around the galleys where fluids were spilt on the floors, and G-BOAF had a much reported hole that appear in her wing leading edge, before her retirement in 2003. Airbus in the UK closed the tours of G-BOAF down during 2010, during which time they embarked on a very expensive restoration work of the aircraft, which saw all corrosion problems resolved, including the hole in the wing which she arrived in Filton with.

There have been claims that the drained hydraulic systems would have resulted in seals drying out and probable moisture ingress into the 3 systems. However following the tasks carried out by Heritage Concorde during Project Flagship during 2011, I can confirm that there is some minor corrosion to G-BOAC, but no moisture ingress in the hydraulic systems, as we had tests carried out to samples of the remaining M2V (Concorde hydraulic Fluid), which were removed by Ian Mosdale and Steve de Sausmarez. There are also seals within the fuel tanks and the fuel systems that would also have dried out by now, which was cause some concerns for ones campaigning for return to flight.

The Contracts between BA and the Museums


I have personally seen the contract between BA and Manchester Airport, most of the contract discusses the decommission process, what was done to the aircraft, what was removed. It also states that the aircraft MUST be kept in a good condition, that BA can use it for advertising purposes, and that ground power must not be restored to the aircraft. There are no hidden secret little facts as some individuals have claimed since 2003, no concrete in the fuel tanks, and no drilled holes to destroy the pressurised cabin. Basically it’s a good contract between two parties regarding caring for what is still BA’s flagship, of course there will always be the ones who don’t want to believe these facts, but the truth remains the truth and stories are nothing more than ridiculous fantasies.

PASSENGER SERVICE FLEET

Click on the links below to read the latest news regarding each airframes condition!

Alpha Alpha G-BOAA

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Location - Museum of Flight in East Lothian, Scotland

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Alpha Bravo G-BOAB

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Location – Heathrow Airport, London, UK

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Alpha Charlie G-BOAC

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Location – Manchester Airport, UK

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Alpha Delta G-BOAD

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Location – New York, USA

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Alpha Echo G-BOAE

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Location – Grantley Adams International Airport, Christ Church, Barbados

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Alpha Foxtrot G-BOAF

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Location – Airbus UK, Filton, Bristol, UK

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Alpha Golf G-BOAG

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Location – Seattle, USA

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THE AIR FRANCE SECTION IS COMING SOON!

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AIR FRANCE SERVICE FLEET

Fox Alpha F- BVFA

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Fox Bravo F-BVFB

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Fox Delta F-BVFD

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Fox Charlie F-BVFC

Location -

Sierra Delta F-BTSD

Location – Le Bourget, Paris France.

Fox Fox F-BVFF

Location - Paris CDG airport, Paris, France

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