Which Concordes could fly again?

All the Concordes (12 in total) were “decommissioned” by British Airways and Air France back in 2003. This was a necessary action as the aircraft were being fully prepared as public museum exhibits, and the two airlines had to make sure that they were made safe for the public to visit them. This is not to be confused with the grounding of both fleets following the Paris crash in 2000, when they were “mothballed”, ready to be put back into service.

The decommissioning of the fleets included the draining of all the fuel and hydraulic fluids from the aircraft, but most Concordes still have a small amount of these fluids remaining onboard, as it was impossible remove all fluids from the aircraft. If you visit Concorde at a museum you may have seen some signs of the fluids on the ground beneath the aircraft.

All pyrotechnics were also removed, such as those in the R.A.T. That implied venting and/or removing all high-pressure vessels, such as the emergency slides, fire bottles, oxygen systems and nitrogen tanks.
As for the British Airways Concordes, all electric ground power connections were removed but these are still onboard the aircraft, just not where they should be. The reason stated for this action was to avoid incompetent amateurs in the future trying to put ground power back on the aircraft, and therefore causing a fire to start.

Unfortunately for the British Concordes, none of the aircraft were stored inside after their retirement in 2003, which raises some real issues regarding corrosion of the airframes, add to this that the hydraulic systems were drained, resulting in seals drying out and probable moisture ingress into the 3 hydraulic systems, and there are also the seals within the fuel tanks and the fuel systems to consider.

But given sufficient funds (and assuming you find an organisation to take over design responsibility from Airbus, if they are not willing to be part of this project) there is still no technical reason why the problems (and there are dozens of other problems to consider) could not be overcome, the money side of things is another matter, and nobody is aware of the true cost until a full feasibility study is carried out to assess the true cost and possibilities of RTF

The Airframes

THE FRENCH FLEET

F-BTSD (Know as Sierra Delta)

The main candidate airframe in the world for restoration to flight status would be this French airframe ‘Sierra Delta’ which is based at Le Bourget, Paris. Not only has this aircraft been lovingly cared for and stored inside over the years following retirement,  but the aircraft has had several systems (including part of the Green hydraulic system) powered up over the years and the reservoirs were not drained as with all the other Concordes.

Her noise and visor still operate, and once a week ground power is connected to the aircraft and the flight deck comes alive.

The French group Olympus 593 headed by Frédéric Pinlet under the direction of former Air France Concorde Engineer Pascal Touzeau, started carrying out engine checks on this Concorde during 2010, with a view to re-starting the engines.

THE BRITISH FLEET

G-BOAA (Known as Alpha Alpha)

This airframe is based in East Fortune and was effectively killed as an aircraft when in 2004 by means of an “angle grinder”, her wings were cut off for transportation to Scotland, so that one is out of the question.

G-BOAB (Known as Alpha Bravo)

The last and only Concorde left at London’s Heathrow Airport, she is in a idea location alongside BA Engineering, but never received the post Paris modification and has basically been left outside to rot. 90% of her flight Deck systems were removed by BA, some of which were used to restore Concorde Delta Golf at Brooklands, and in fact holes were even drill in the fuselage to drain water, so this one is also ruled out of the picture

G-BOAC (Known as Alpha Charlie)

This Concorde is based at Manchester, and is the oldest Concorde in the BA fleet. This production aircraft was initially stored outside, but now resides in a purpose built exhibition hangar at Manchester Airport.

Now this aircraft could be a potential candidate for consideration as she is absolutely pristine; a testament to the team that have been caring for her there.

G-BOAD (Known as Alpha Delta)

This aircraft is based next to the USS Intrepid in New York, we can probably rule this airframe out potential candidate, and this is due to having been exposed to 7 years worth of salt water corrosion from the Hudson River. (Also, while she was temporarily stored in New Jersey a couple of years ago, someone drove in a truck into her and bent the whole nose section. The radome was smashed (replaced with a rather clever fibreglass fabrication) and the nose straightened with a blow-torch and hammer.

G-BOAE (Known as Alpha Echo)

This Concorde is now based at Grantley Adams airport in Barbados has been stored under cover for much of the time. This aircraft could be a potential candidate for consideration, provided that she has not suffered too much from the warm damp atmosphere of Barbados.

G-BOAF (Known as Alpha Fox)

Foxy is based in Filton at the Airbus factory; she is probably the number one British potential candidate, as long as too much damage was carried out to her following her removal from public display during 2010. It seems that far less was removed from this Concorde during the decommissioning process in November 2003, as it was considered as the airframe that BA wanted to use as a heritage flight. In the months following the end of service in 2003, British Airways investigated the possibility of a “Heritage Flight”, and this was led by Sir Rod Eddington, the British Airways CEO, but Airbus SAS, the holder of the Type Certificate blocked every attempt and refused to relinquish the Type Certificate to another manufacture, such as BAe Systems or Boeing. At that point British Airways drew their own conclusions from the Airbus decision and closed down the Concorde operation fully.

G-BOAG (Known as Alpha Golf)

This aircraft is based in Seattle at Boeing Field, and has been left outside right next to a highway since she arrived in 2003. Her condition doesn’t look too good, the undercarriage barrels look all brown and discoloured and the paintwork is completely dull and matte. (She had a new paint job not too long before retirement).

But don’t rule this airframe out as a potential candidate for ‘Return to Flight’.

So there are only really five airframes out of the eighteen that could be considered as potential candidates for a ‘Return to Flight’ project.

So these are the possible Concordes that could be returned to flight

Of course there would have to be a full inspection and feasibility study carried out by trained engineers before we would have the confirmed airframe.

F-BTSD – ‘Sierra Delta’

G-BOAC – ‘Alpha Charlie’

G-BOAE – ‘Alpha Echo’

G-BOAF – ‘Alpha Fox’

G-BOAG – ‘Alpha Golf’

Wouldn’t it be super to see this amazing sight once again!

© Heritage Concorde 2012, all rights reserved

One Response to “Which Concordes could fly again?”

  1. Graham Penson says:

    Hi, I have read your website with interest and as a EASA licenced engineer I have come to the conclusion that some of the “preservation” of this once fine fleet of aircraft is an absolute disgrace.
    If we look around the world at some older aircraft projects that remain in flying condition, then Concorde has fallen well short considering its status in aircraft history.
    To point the finger of blame isn’t difficult. That rests with Airbus and to some extent the UK CAA. I remember the problems the preservation team had with the Bruntingthorpe Comet “Canopus” when a number of big backers wanted to put her back in the air. Red tape soon put a stop to that. And so it was with Concorde. Rules are rules but an airframe of such importance deserves a special case status.

    Airbus are simply not interested and and to not release the design authority to an organisation that is, is beyond comprehension.

    Lets hope someone with vision one day will overcome all these obstacles and put a Concorde back in the air where she belongs for future generations to marvel at!

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