The Concorde holds a very special place in aviation history as one of the most famous and recognizable aircraft. Even though they are no longer in the air, you can still enjoy them in different parts of the world. Let’s take a closer look at where the Concord planes are now.
It is one of only two supersonic aircraft to ever operate commercially. Built by a British-French consortium, the Concorde was a turbojet supersonic airliner, capable of flying at Mach 2.04 (1.354 mph or 2.180 km/h at cruise altitude). 20 Concordes were built, including 6 prototypes and development aircraft. The 14 commercial models operated from 1976 to their retirement in 2003. British Airways and Air France were the only airlines to buy and operate the Concorde. All but two are preserved.
Among the destinations, the Concordes flew regular flights across the Atlantic. It flew these routes in under half the time of conventional airliners. Flying from London to New York took just under three and a half hours.
So where are the Concorde planes now? Today you can experience the Concorde in five countries.
Being a British-French aircraft, a large number of the remaining Concordes now reside in the United Kingdom. In fact, a total of 7 Concordes now call the United Kingdom their home. British Airways operated four of them while the remaining three were test and development aircraft.
Test and Development Concordes in the United Kingdom
The Concorde was built in both United Kingdom and France. The first prototype built by the United Kingdom (registration G-BSST) is on display in Yeovilton at the Fleet Air Arm Museum. The purpose of this prototype was to prove that the performance and supersonic capabilities were correct. Engineers would then concentrate their efforts on making it into an airliner that would meet certification requirements.
A pre-production model of the Concorde (registration G-AXDN) is on display in Duxford at the Imperial War Museum. The pre-production models introduced new improvements and refinements before full scale production began. Among the improvements were a new wing plan, more fuel capacity and a different engine intake system.
Another pre-production model (registration G-BBDG) is in the Brooklands Museum in Weybridge, Surrey. This was the first aircraft in history to carry 100 people at supersonic speeds in 1974.
Production Concordes in the United Kingdom
Manchester Airport is home to one of the first production Concordes, the G-BOAC, which British Airways operated. It is one of the heaviest Concordes as aircrafts produced later benefitted from the design changes and weight reductions. The G-BOAC was also considered the flagship Concorde by British Airways because the name “BOAC” were the initials of the forerunner to British Airways.
The only Concorde in Scotland is at the National Museum of Flight in East Lothian. The Concorde named G-BOAA was the first aircraft that British Airways got delivered, which happened on 14 January 1976. It was also the first Concorde to perform a commercial flight for the British Airways. They, and Air France, did so simultaneously on 21 January 1976.
Heathrow Airport houses a former British Airways Concorde (G-BOAB). It is now used for personel training by the British Airways. This aircraft was never fitted with the return-to-flight modifications following the Paris crash. It’s last flight was a positioning flight from New York to Heathrow Airport and it never flew again.
The last Concorde ever built (G-BOAF) is on display at the Aerospace Bristol aerospace museum near Filton. G-BOAF also made the final flight of all Concordes on 26 November 2003.
Today, France is home to six Concordes. Half of them are former prototype or development aircraft, while the other half is Air France production models.
Test and Development Concordes in France
The very first prototype of the Concorde (F-WTSS) is on display at the Museum of Air and Space in Le Bourget, Paris. It performed its first flight on 2 March 1969 and its final flight 19 October 1973. Engineers built this prototype to prove the supersonic calculations and verify the performance of the airframe. The invaluable data eventually allowed the designers to proceed with construction of the pre-production models.
Among the pre-production models was the F-WTSA which was the fourth aircraft built. It first flew on 10 January 1973 and was the first Concorde to have the shape and features of the future production models. F-WTSA was also the first Concorde to fly to the United States when it touched down in Dallas on 20 September 1973. It featured British Airways livery on one side and Air France livery on the other side for several years. F-WTSA is now displayed at Orly Airport at the Delta Museum in Paris.
Another pre-production Concorde (F-WTSB) is on display at the Aeroscopia museum near the Airbus factory at Toulouse. It first flew on 6 December 1973 and had its last flight on 19 April 1985. It retired to the Aeroscopia museum with a total of 909 flying hours.
Production Concordes in France
The Aeroscopia museum is actually home to two Concordes. The museum also houses the F-BVFC Concorde which performed its first flight on 9 July 1976 from Toulouse where it was also built. It was one of Air France’s Concordes and retired with a total of 14.332 flying hours. It served the last ever Air France Concorde flight on 27 June 2003.
Also home to two Concordes is the Museum of Air and Space in Le Bourget, Paris. In addition to the first prototype (F-WTSS), an Air France Concorde (F-BTSD) is on display here. This Concorde was part of a promotion with Pepsi and featured a blue Pepsi livery in 1996. The normal white color helped remove the heat that air friction created at the high speeds. While in blue though, engineers limited it to a maximum of 20 minutes at Mach 2.02 due to the heat build-up. Otherwise it would fly at Mach 1.7.
The final Concorde in France is at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. The Concorde F-BVFF first flew on 26 December 1978. It was undergoing maintenance at the time of the 25 July 2000 crash and never flew again. Its last flight was 11 June 2000 and retired with a total of 12.421 flying hours.
Three Concordes reside in the United States. All are production models formerly operated by British Airways and Air France.
The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Chantilly, Virginia is home to an Air France Concorde (F-BVFA). This aircraft performed the first Air France Concorde service, bound for Rio in 1976. It had its last flight on 12 June 2003 and had accumulated 17.824 flying hours.
A British Airways Concorde (G-BOAD) can be seen at the famous Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City. This aircraft featured a half British Airways, half Singapore Airlines livery briefly in 1977 and from 1979 to 1981 as the two airlines operated a joint service between Bahrain and Singapore. The G-BOAD also holds the record for the fastest Atlantic crossing by a Concorde. It completed the trip from New York to London in 2 hours, 52 minutes and 59 seconds. When G-BOAD retired on 10 November 2003 it had spent the most time in the air of all the Concordes with 23.397 flying hours.
In Seattle, the Museum of Flight displays the G-BOAG British Airways Concorde that first flew on 21 April 1978. It had a less glorious life. No buyers showed interested in G-BOAG and it did not enter service until 1980, almost two years after construction was complete. Later in its life, British Airways used it as a source for spare parts but they reintroduced it to service again. In service the aircraft operated over 5000 flights and retired with 16.239 flying hours on the clock.
Germany is home to a single Concorde. An Air France Concorde (F-BVFB) is on display at Technik Museum Sinsheim. The museum has mounted it as though in flight, while still being accessible to visitors. The original four Rolls-Royce/Snecma Olympus 593 engines are on display as well. F-BVFB was built in Toulouse and flew first on 6 March 1976. It had accumulated 14.771 flying hours when it retired in June 2003. According to Heritage Concorde, F-BVFB was in long-term storage between 1990 and 1997.
While Barbados is perhaps not an obvious place to look for a Concorde, there is actually one near the Grantley Adams International Airport in Bridgetown. A British Airways Concorde (G-BOAE) is on display and open to the public in “The Concorde Experience” exhibition. This Concorde flew in formation with the Red Arrows to mark the opening of the Scottish Parliament in July 1999. Its last flight to Barbados reached the maximum certified altitude of 60.000 feet. G-BOAE flew a total of 23.376 hours and retired to the Barbados on 17 November 2003.
Why Were So Few Concordes Built?
In total the British-French consortium built 20 Concordes including prototypes and development models. Only two airlines operated the 14 commercial production models. The British Airways and Air France.
Despite interest from several other airlines in the 1960s, a combination of several factors lead them to canceling their orders.
During development, costs rose to over six times the original estimates. This meant that each Concorde would come with a much higher price tag than anticipated.
In addition, the Concorde’s sonic boom meant that traveling over land would likely cause complaints from people living in the affected areas.
Rising competition from more fuel efficient aircraft, such as the Boeing 747, also made the Concorde seem like an expensive and high-risk option for airlines. The 1973 oil crisis made airlines even more cautious.
The consortium behind the Concorde’s development received options for more than 100 aircraft during the early days. Only 14 production models were built.
An Aviation Icon
Flying at twice the speed of sound while giving passengers a luxury experience are some of the reasons for the fame of the Concorde.
Economic problems and increasing competition from more efficient aircraft meant the end of the aircraft’s history. But even though the legendary supersonic aircraft may not be seen in the air again, there are still places where you can enjoy it.