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Concorde timeline: The highs and lows of the iconic plane | The Independent


As 25 July marks the 20-year anniversary of Concorde’s fatal crash, we look back on the highlights – and lowlights – of the famed supersonic jet.


The Supersonic Transport Aircraft Committee recommends that the UK build a passenger jet capable of flying at twice the speed of sound. It estimates that by 1970 the world market for supersonic planes would be between 150 and 500.

29 November 1962

An Anglo-French treaty to produce a supersonic aircraft is signed by Julian Amery, Minister of Supply, and Geoffroy de Courcel, the French Ambassador to Britain.

It is not, though, a good omen of warmer ties. A few weeks later the then-French president, Charles de Gaulle, vetoes British membership of the European Economic Community.

3 June 1963

The first orders for the plane arrive, with Air France, BOAC (later part of British Airways) and Pan Am of the US each ordering six.

A wide range of other airlines place non-binding orders, including Air India, Lufthansa and Qantas. All except the French and British orders were subsequently cancelled.

The work is split between Sud Aviation (later Aérospatiale) and the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC).

19 November 1964

Five weeks after the new Labour government is elected, it announces Britain’s withdrawal from the supersonic project. But such are the cancellation penalties that two months later the decision is reversed.

11 December 1967

The first prototype Concorde is rolled out in Toulouse. Up to this point the British had called it Concord, but the technology minister Tony Benn said they would add the “e”, standing for “excellence, England, Europe and entente”.

31 December 1969

Concorde’s Soviet rival, the Tupolev Tu-144, took off for the first time from a runway to the side of the factory where it was built in Zhukovski, USSR. It was nicknamed “Concordski” by the West.

2 March 1969

The first Concorde test flight takes off at Toulouse.

3 June 1973

The Tupolev Tu-144 crashes during the 1973 Paris Air Show. All six crew died, as well as eight people on the ground.

21 January 1976

Concorde enters service with British Airways as BA300 and flies from Heathrow to Bahrain. Permission to land in the US had not been granted.

Air France flies from Paris via Dakar in Senegal to Rio.

24 May 1976

Concorde flies from Heathrow to Washington DC after permission is granted to land in the US capital.


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