Concorde: The supersonic aircraft is 50 years old

Friday, 19 April, 2019

The Concorde first took to the skies 50 years ago.

The bond between Concorde and Toulouse is very special. Designed in the offices of Sud Aviation, which became Aérospatiale, then Airbus, the great white bird took off for its maiden flight from Toulouse-Blagnac airport on 2 March 1969. Entering into service in 1973, the Concorde went on to fly Air France and British Airways passengers, primarily between Paris and New York, for 27 years.

 

On 2 March 1969, at 3.06 p.m., the aircraft pitched up to 45 degrees and took off from the brand-new runway at Toulouse-Blagnac.  Concorde, which would become the first supersonic aircraft, was carrying out its first test flight.

Test pilot André Turcat flew the “prototype 001” over the Garonne Valley for 27 minutes.

 

Its 7.31-metre-long moving and droop nose is one of the aircraft’s most distinguishing features. This mobility ensures that the pilot has adequate visibility during the different flight phases and also makes the aircraft more streamlined.

 

The Concorde 001 prototype, weighing in at 185 tonnes, took off from Toulouse-Blagnac on 2 March 1969. This 42-minute flight (29 minutes of actual flight time), at a maximum speed of 463 kph and at just over 3,000 metres of altitude, embodied ten years of technological and administrative battles.

 

Just a few months later, in October, the aircraft broke the sound barrier. Mach 2 was reached in October 1970. This speed was maintained for 53 minutes.

A number of local events are being organised to celebrate the Concorde’s 50th year.