• Sanjay Manival Raju

Why did the Concorde make its last touchdown?

Updated: Jan 29, 2020

The year of 1976 saw an engineering marvel take to the skies. Jointly developed by the British and French, it attested to the possibility of a Supersonic Transport (SST). 

The Concorde made its first commercial flight in 1969 and flew at speeds of Mach 2.0: a speed at which the distance between New York and London could be covered in 3.5 hours. Known for its breakthrough engineering and innovation, it attracted a lot of attention from around the globe and was a symbol of luxury travel meant only for the wealthy. However, it gradually began losing altitude until it made a steep descent in 2003.

Many of us believe that the crash in 2000 and the environmental impacts doomed the future of concord. As true as it may be, there were other contributing factors based on the success of a business model and the economics of flying governing the aviation industry.

25th July 2000

This day masked the Concorde's achievements and glamour following the crash of the air France flight 4590 90 secs after liftoff from Paris. The cause of the crash was due to the tyre burst from which fragments hit the fuel tank starting a fire after it ran over a piece of metal on the runway. Raising concerns over the safety measures. Concorde was equipped with, it let to the grounding of the entire fleet.

Airlines invested huge amounts in making it safer by adding Kevlar lining to the fuel tanks and fitting blast resistant tyres. In 2001, Concorde resumed its service with the British airways flight from London half way into the Atlantic and back. While cruising in this flight and just when it seemed like it was recovering from an episode, the twins towers fell.

September 11 2001

The 11th of September 2001 was the most horrifying event in the history of United States. The fall of the twin towers marked a down fall in Concorde's business with the loss of several of its frequent flyers to this tragic incident. With seats having to run dry, Concorde's flight was deemed to be crippled.


It operated in an era when they said "speed sold seats" and it indeed did for, flying itself was for the privileged then. 

Several of the environmental concerns acted against the Concorde's operational capability with activists hoarding and protesting the Concorde's arrival in their respective territories. This meant that the Concorde's flight path was within and over the oceanic paces only. Hence, the noise or the sonic boom from these supersonic entities proved to be detrimental to it's service.

Boeing's 747, one of the leading and remarkable passenger airliner threatened the existence of Concorde. It revolutionized intercontinental air travel with an ability to carry about 400 passengers for cheaper and airlines spent lesser. With this speed was never a weak point for the 747 nor a strong point for the Concorde.

The fact is, as air travel became more prevalent, by itself seemed to be the fasted mode of transport to any traveler. Today cost is seen as the major form of barrier to transportation and only a hand full of time sensitive travelers exist. Concorde provided no apparent value and travelers found no reason to pay an exorbitant premium for a faster travel. They are now content with the level of service provided by the vast airliner be it for the time, comfort or the fare.

The crash and the environmental concerns where just the contributing factors while the real case rested in the concept of sustainability that overruled and brought down the concord. With rocketing operating and maintenance costs with no returns they were sent to museums as memories of the past.

We as end users still wish to make the super sonic travel and experience the magnificence of such entities. Let us now leave it to the innovators as we hope to see one such Concorde be revived for a global travel.

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