Concorde airframe 208 which as the registration G-BOAB, and has become known as Alpha Bravo made her last flight from New York JFK airport on August 18th 2000, with the flight No. BA002P. This flight carried no passengers and was just a re-positioning flight back to Heathrow, on the evening before the Concorde fleet’s Certificates of air-worthiness was to be officially removed, and was flown under the Command of Capt. Les Brodie.
Since this date the story of this Concorde has been a rather sad one. It was due to get the return to flight modifications following the Paris crash in 2000. BA had plans for a full cabin upgrade to their Concorde fleet known as ‘Project Rocket’. This interior upgrade was brought forward while the fleet was grounded and awaiting a return to flight status, it was only partly carried out and partly fitted to five of the aircraft in the fleet, and therefore essentially only consisted of the new passenger seating and carpets. The aircraft that received this first stage of the upgrade were G-BOAC, G-BOAD, G-BOAE, G-BOAF, G-BOAG. The full upgrade was planned for the fleet as each airframe became ready for their big major “D” check and would have consisted of new vacuum toilets and washrooms, new galleys, new lighting, new cabin wall fittings and new cabin info displays, so essentially a full cabin refit, that would last to the end of Concorde’s service life and the first since the 1990’s.
But while the five airframes received their partial upgrades, G-BOAB had her old interior stripped out at BA Engineering, Heathrow and was then used to test fit the new toilets and washrooms, although the plan was to restore G-BOAB back to full flight status at some stage. One interesting fact is that the new toilets were fitted and tested aboard G-BOAB with dog food.
However, during the late summer/autumn of 2002, this test re-fit proved to be a tough task, new galleys were overweight, new toilet installations, which was always a little tricky with such a limited space, were even more problematic than was thought and in the end, the manpower assigned to Concorde G-BOAB for the test re-fits, was required for the day to day operations of the Concorde fleet. So it seemed that the manufacturers clearly had a lot more work to carry out before any insulations to the aircraft could be carried out, therefore in late 2002, further work on “Project Rocket” was suspended. This happened at a time while Alpha Bravo’s interior was putting it mildly in a “real mess”, due mainly to the interior removal which would allow the refit. So G-BOAB remained sealed up at BA Engineering awaiting her refit, a repair to the cracked wing spar and of course her CCA post Paris crash modifications requirements.
Then with the rapid chain of events that came about during 2003 following the decision by Airbus SAS to no longer support the Concorde operations for Air France and British Airways forcing the retirement of the whole fleet, G-BOAB was left stranded at
Heathrow while her five flight status sisters were relocated to museums around the world and her other non-flight status sister G-BOAA was taken apart and transported by road and sea to Scotland.
BA came up with various plans for G-BOAB, they all centred around the New Heathrow BA passenger hub, terminal “T5”, One plan was to suspend her from the ceiling, but this would have roved costly and the terminal construction would have been able to take the weight, the other plan was to station her next to the terminal in some way as a gateway guardian for British Airways, where she would act as a true ambassador for the company and the heritage of Concorde.
But none of these plans were released for various reasons, and in the end BA gifted Concorde G-BOAB, along with its log to BAA, the owner of Heathrow on 21st January 2004, which was the 28th anniversary of Concorde’s entry into service on condition that it remained at Heathrow as symbol that this was once the British home of supersonic travel, were people once flew from and crossed the Atlantic in just over three hours. So G-BOAB was placed on display at the airport near to Runway 26, as a mark of pride for this great aircraft, airport workers nick-named this area “Point Rocket”, the Rocket being the nick name given to Concorde by BA staff over the 27 years of passenger services. It was a beautiful sight, and many passengers enjoyed seeing Concorde while leaving and arriving at Heathrow. But then things took a turn for the worse once again for this Concorde, on 10th May 2006, she was removed from “Point Rocket”, and since then has not been properly displayed.
There have been many reasons stated for this, but the main one seems to focus on the fact that the Spanish company Ferrovial took over BAA, and Heathrow’s new owner appeared to have no interest in Concorde or the heritage of the airport and requested £3million per year from BA to keep her in this location.
Another claim was that she would been in the way of the new massive Airbus A380 when it landed at Heathrow, there were further claims made, including one that she needed to be moved due to on going maintenance and building extension work at Heathrow. But the fact is that neither BA nor BAA has made any statements themselves concerning her move. But Heritage Concorde did received some information from an employee of BAA, that they will not allow this Concorde anywhere on BAA land, therefore backing up the first claim, if true, what a disgrace. So therefore BA moved her back onto their own land at BA engineering, land which BA has leased since the 1950s.
Since her removal from “Point Rocket”, she has spent most of her time behind the British Airways Engineering buildings, sometimes within sight near the Jurys Inn and then near the Hatton Cross roundabout, and other times sort of hidden away in an old Concorde engine test area, until this was removed.
There was a claim in the UK newspaper “The Times” during 2010, which stated that she was to be sold and was heading off to Dubai, this appears to have been a serous thought at the time, and The Times article is below for you to read….
The Times: BA may clip Concorde’s wings and sell her to Dubai
There is some corner of a foreign desert that is for ever England. Dubai already has the Queen Elizabeth 2, the world’s fastest cruise ship, and now it is bidding for Concorde, the fastest airliner.
Forty years ago tomorrow, the British version of the graceful delta-winged aircraft took to the skies on its maiden flight. The 22-minute journey made by 002 from Filton, Bristol, to Fairford, Gloucestershire, prompted an outpouring of national pride that swept aside complaints about the cost, soot and, of course, the deafening roar.
Yet the anniversary celebrations will be overshadowed for many Concorde enthusiasts by the disclosure that British Airways may betray a promise to put a Concorde on public display at Heathrow and instead cut it into pieces and ship it to the Gulf.
A Dubai-based consortium, advised by former BA Concorde crew, is planning to turn the aircraft into a tourist attraction, possibly on one of the manmade palm-shaped islands. It would be jointly marketed with the QE2, which was sold to Dubai last year to become a floating hotel.
The aircraft’s wings would have to be sliced off before it could be loaded on to a ship.
BA grounded its seven-strong Concorde fleet six years ago and gave six to museums. But it kept one, Alpha Bravo, and for the past six years hid it away behind the airline’s engineering base at the eastern end of Heathrow. Only those who know where to look will see the distinctive slender nose.
By contrast, an Air France Concorde stands proudly on a plinth outside the airline’s headquarters at Charles de Gaulle airport, Paris. Another one is preserved at the Paris Air and Space Museum by former engineers who regularly run the electronic and hydraulic systems.
BA ordered in 2003 that Concorde’s systems should be disabled. Jock Lowe, the marque’s former chief pilot, accused the airline at the time of undermining efforts to operate heritage flights.
Despite making up to £20 million profit a year from Concorde during 27 years of commercial flights, BA is refusing to help any of the groups seeking to get the aircraft back in the air. It has repeatedly rejected requests to publish a feasibility study. BA claims it showed that it would be too expensive, but it will not share the figures with the Save Concorde Group, which believes it could raise sponsorship for a return to flight. A BA spokesman said: “It is an internal document and wasn’t intended to be shared. It has commercial information in it.”
The airline has also been distancing itself from Concorde in its branding. Two years ago, BA removed a model of Concorde from a roundabout on the approach road from the M4 to Heathrow where it had been for 16 years. It has been replaced with a model of an Emirates Airbus A380 superjumbo.
Ben Lord, of the Save Concorde Group, said: “Sending it to Dubai would be a kick in the teeth for Britain’s aviation heritage. Chopping off its wings and putting it on a ship would be the final insult.”
A source close to the Dubai consortium said it would spend several million pounds restoring the aircraft’s interior, much of which was removed and used as spares on other Concordes. He said: “If any Concorde was going to return to flight, Alpha Bravo would not be the one because it did not have the safety modifications made to others after the Paris crash in 2000. It would be very well taken care of in Dubai.”
BA admitted that it was considering removing Alpha Bravo from Heathrow, but refused to comment on its discussions with the Dubai consortium
During the later end of 2010, G-BOAB was cleaned and put on show for the BA family day, this again happen during the 2011 family day, and she looked amazing and seemed to remain in that location for awhile. Then she was moved further into the engineering base and out of sight, although the then head of Heritage Concorde in 2011, Steve de Sausmarez was taken airside by a Director of the company and was even given permission to take pictures of her. But since this time she has been moved twice, once in public view at Hatton Cross, and now to her current location well out of sight. There had been some claims prior to this occasion that BA wanted to hide her from the public, a so called “out of sight, out of mind” game. But again cleaning her off and placing her on show shows the untruth behind this story.
There as also been plan put forward by the UK based “Club Concorde”. They wanted to place her on display on a platform on the River Thames, near to the London Eye. There were reports during 2011 in the London newspaper “The Metro” that “Club Concorde” was stating that their plan was a nearly done deal, that British Airways were backing their plan. But this does not seem to be what British Airways, the owners of this Concorde are stating to us. This was conformed to me by the Company Secretary, and Chairman of British Airways PLC!
But there have been many claims made and regarding this very costly plan, and nothing has been heard regarding it since 2012 when the group seemed to have focused their sights on getting G-BOAD back from New York instead, although the New York museum confirmed that they wanted to retain their Concorde. But if this plan could happen, then it would provide a home for this so far unwanted Concorde without any future. So just may be this plan of Club Concorde’s could work, and if it did then if would again provide something really different and show off Concorde G-BOAB in all its glory, unlike its current situation.
Concorde Alpha Bravo looks very good from a distance, but the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. The interior is almost a bare shell… A lot of the interior, which had already been removed by BA was donated to Brooklands Museum in Surrey for the restoration of Concorde G-BBDG. Most of the cockpit dials have also been removed, and a lot of conjecture exists as to what exactly is inside G-BOAB. But Heritage Concorde has seen pictures taken during 2010 showing her to be in a horrendous state from magazines being used as ballast, to a problem with rat infestations. Her seats, carpets and overhead lockers have all gone; she is just showing bare metal inside and filled with rubbish. In reality, only the forward cabin interior was fitted into G-BBDG, so maybe one day the aft cabin of G-BOAB maybe restored, but the biggest challenge would be to actually find enough seats! BA auctioned off a lot of their Concorde parts, what wasn’t sold went to landfill, as is normal when an airline stops operating an aircraft.
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