Farnborough Air Show

Concorde Facts

 - July 11, 2012, 3:33 PM

Here are some fascinating supersonic facts about the Concorde:

•Just over 202 feet long, nine-foot-wide tube;

•Tail and cockpit sections added at Filton were built at Weybridge (Vickers, later BAC);

•Stretches six to eight inches in flight;

•Pressurized to 6,000 feet, so comfortable in cabin;

•Cruise: 1,350 mph (Mach 2 at 60,000 feet);

•Range: 4,300 miles, with 100 passengers in single class;

•Payload: 25,000 pounds, only 6 percent of max takeoff weight;

•Takeoff speed: 250 mph;

•Landing speed: 187 mph;

•Fuel consumption: more than 5,600 imperial gallons an hour;

•20 built and flew, 16 of them were production aircraft;

•Entered airline service in 1976;

BA flew 2.5 million passengers before the aircraft was retired from service in 2003.

•Fastest East-West Atlantic crossing: 3 hours 6 minutes; fastest West-East: 2 hours 53 minutes.

And the most fascinating fact of all is that the U.S. spent more on getting nowhere because of a dogged insistence on heading for Mach 3, which meant extensive use of titanium–a bad choice. All this is well documented, I was told by our host, Gerald Ramshaw. The Concorde used RR58 “Hiduminium,” an alloy of aluminium and copper (6 percent), which Rolls-Royce had developed for pistons. The skin of the Concorde reached 120-deg C (this would double again to 350-deg C if you went Mach 3, but the transatlantic crossing would be just 30 minutes faster).

Here’s another contender for most fascinating fact–above 7 degrees angle of attack lift is generated by vortices created by the ogive delta wing–vortex lift–not by conventional lift at all. The wing is swept 55 degrees and twists and droops–a shape honed through 5,000 hours of windtunnel testing.

And the famous drooping nose? During takeoff and initial subsonic climb, the visor was lowered into the nose and the nose was in its intermediate 5- degree position; for landing, both visor and nose down, to full 12.5-degree droop.