The destination for history

Concorde chronology


A look back at the history of the iconic record-breaking supersonic airliner, from early developments in supersonic transport, through to the decommissioning of Concorde in 2003.


February - A group meets to study the supersonic transport (SST) concept for the first time. Arnold Hall, director of the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE), asked noted aeronautical engineer, Morien Morgan, to form a committee to study the concept.


April - Morgan’s committee deliver their first report. The group considered the concept of an SST unfeasible, and instead recommended continued low-level studies into supersonic aerodynamics. Not long after Johanna Weber and Dietrich Küchemann at the RAE publish a series of reports on a revolutionary new wing planform known as the ‘slender delta’ concept, showing that a thin delta wing with a high angle of attack could generate sufficient lift for take-off and landing of a supersonic airliner.


November - The UK sets up a committee to study the feasibility of supersonic passenger aircraft. The Supersonic Transport Advisory Committee (STAC) included officials and experts from government departments, airlines and aircraft manufacturers. It produced some 400 written submissions to prove that a civil supersonic transport was commercially viable. 


French, US and Soviet interest in supersonic transport grows around the same time as the UK's.

March - STAC report recommends the UK develop long-range supersonic transport with design studies for two supersonic airliners, one to fly at a speed of Mach 1.2 and the other at Mach 2.0 (twice the speed of sound). Bristol Aeroplane Company and Hawker Siddeley Aviation are commissioned for the preliminary designs, which are developed as the HSA.1000 and Bristol 198. The government and the STAC group look for major partners to help develop the designs. 

September - Hawker Siddeley approach American aerospace company, Lockheed Corporation.


Morien Morgan at his desk with supersonic transport aircraft models


The British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) is formed following a government-pressured merger of English Electric Aviation Ltd., Vickers-Armstrongs (Aircraft), Hunting Aircraft and the Bristol Aeroplane Company. The Bristol team immediately start talks with US giants Boeing, General Dynamics, Douglas Aircraft and Sud Aviation in France.


June - July - After attempts to forge transatlantic cooperation fail, the commonality of SST requirements and design studies leads to Anglo-French discussions of possible collaboration. Discussions take place between BAC and Sud Aviation in Weybridge and Paris.


November - The UK and France sign a draft treaty for the joint design, development and manufacture of a supersonic airliner.


January - During a speech, French President Charles de Gaulle makes first use of the name ‘Concorde’.

June - Pan American, BOAC and Air France sign Concorde sales options, with six Concordes each. US President Kennedy announces he is backing the development of a US supersonic airliner.

October - British and French journalists are show an experimental model of the Anglo-French 'Concord' (without an 'e') in Bristol.


January - After having announced the previous November after winning the general election that Britain would withdraw from the project, the new Labour government announces they have completed a review and they will continue to back the programme, despite financial and economic doubts.


September - Flight tests of the Olympus 593 jet engine begin, using an RAF Vulcan bomber. 


May - Preproduction design (130 seats) is announced. Sales options reach a total of 74 from 16 airlines. 

December - The first Concorde prototype, 001, is rolled out in front of more that 1,100 guests at the Aerospatiale plant in Toulouse on 11 December. British Government Minister for Technology, Tony Benn, announces that the British aircraft will use the French ‘Concorde’ spelling, saying: ‘Concorde has an 'e' for excellence, England, Europe and entente cordiale.’


February - The British Government announces a £125 million production loan to launch Concorde aircraft and engines.

September - Registered as G-BSST, Concorde 002 (the first of the aircraft assembled in Britain) is rolled out from the Brabazon hangar at the BAC’s plant at Filton, Bristol.

Concorde 002 takes off from Filton


March - Captained by chief test pilot Andre Turcat, Concorde 001 flies for the first time from Toulouse. 

April - The first flight of the British-made 002 prototype takes place on 9 April from Filton, landing at Fairford test centre. The crew for 002’s first flight are chief test pilot Brian Trubshaw, copilot John Cochrane and engineer observer Brian Watts.

June - Both prototype aircraft make their first public appearances at the Paris Air Show.

October - On its 45th test flight Concorde 001 breaks the sound barrier for the first time and makes its first supersonic flight, holding Mach 1.05 for nine minutes at an altitude of 36,000 ft.


Brian Trubshaw, the first test pilot of the British made 002 prototype, following its first flight at Filton, April 1969


February - The Olympus 593 engine makes the longest single test run, running continuously for 300 hours, the equivalent of almost 100 transatlantic Concorde flights. 

September - Following an appearance at the Farnborough Air Show, 002 makes its first landing at an international airport – Heathrow – which prompted complaints from local residents about the noise.

November - Both 001 and 002 reach Mach 2, twice the speed of sound.


March - US SST programme is abandoned.

December - Concorde 01, the first pre-production aircraft, makes its first flight from Filton to Fairford.


April - Production orders reach sixteen aircraft.

July - BOAC orders five Concordes and Air France orders four. China signs a preliminary agreement to buy two Concordes, followed by another agreement in August for a third.

December - The British Government approves a bill to raise the production loan to £350 million.


January - Concorde 02 makes its first flight from Toulouse. 202, the second production type Concorde makes its first flight from Filton.

June - Whilst appearing at the Paris Air Show, the Soviet Union’s Tupolev TU144 supersonic aircraft crashes into a northern suburb of the city, killing 14 people - all six aboard the aircraft and eight on the ground.

September - Concorde 002 lands at Dallas/Fort Worth on its first visit to the USA. On 26 September is makes its first non-stop crossing of the Atlantic in record-breaking time, from Washington to Orly, Paris.

October - Prototype 001 is retired to the French Air Museum at Le Bourget Airport.

November - Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, begins the Royal Family's long association with Concorde by joining a test flight.


January - Pam American drop their Concorde options.

June - Concorde makes its first double Atlantic crossing in one day.

July - British Prime Minister Harold Wilson and French President ValéryGiscard d'Estaing agree to the continuation of the programme, but limit production to only sixteen Concordes.


October - Concorde receives its French Certificate of Airworthiness.

December - Concorde is awarded its Certificate of Airworthiness by the UK Civil Aviation Authority. Meanwhile, the US House of Representatives votes by 199 to 198 to place a six month ban on Concorde landing in the USA. Following the horrific 1973 crash, Aeroflot proves doubters wrong when a TU144 carrying mail and freight departs Moscow for Kazakhstan.


January - Inauguration of commercial supersonic travel as British Airways begin a London - Bahrain service using G-BOAA (206) and Air France a Paris - Rio de Janeiro, via Dakar service with F-BVFA (205). 

February - US Secretary of Transportation, William Coleman approves British Airways and Air France two Concorde services per day to New York and one service per day to Washington for a trial period of 16 months.

March - Concorde G-BSST (002) is retired to the Fleet Air Arm Museum.  The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey bans Concorde from landing at its airport, due to concerns over noise.

May - Transatlantic services to Washington begin.


November - Inauguration of commercial British Airways and Air France Concorde flights to New York.


August - British Airways carries its 100,000 Concorde passenger on 10 August 1978.


February - British Airways write off Concorde purchase cost.

September - British and French governments announce that no more Concordes will be built and any unsold aircraft will go to Air France and British Airways.


Amid spiralling costs, the British government reviews the future of Concorde, following criticism that the project ‘had acquired a life of its own and was out of control’.


February - The British Trade and Industry Committee reaffirms their dissatisfaction with the financial aspects of Concorde.

October - Following the earlier discontinuation of their Concorde service to Caracas and Rio de Janeiro, Air France also drop their Concorde service to Washington, making New York their only Concorde service destination.


January - The fastest transatlantic crossing from west to east, New York to London, was made by Concorde in 2 hours 56 minutes on 1 January 1983.


March - After 18 months of negotiations, British Government involvement in the Concorde project is dramatically reduced. British Airways takes over support costs and responsibility for funding Concorde's British manufacturers. 


July - British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher takes her first supersonic Concorde flight from London to Vancouver. 

November - Concorde makes its first round the world flight charter flight. Covering 28,238 miles in a total flying time of 31 hours and 51 minutes. 


September - Captained by Brian Walpole, Concorde sets a new transatlantic record of 95 minutes between Hopedale, Newfoundland and the north-west Irish coast on 6 September 1987.

November - Land speed record holder Richard Noble sets a new record by crossing the Atlantic three times in one day aboard Concorde.


April - Whilst on a circumnavigation charter from Christchurch, New Zealand to Sydney, Australia, Concorde G-BOAF loses a section of the rudder.


March - British Airways announces it is to replace the upper and lower rudders on all seven of its Concordes following a third rudder failure. 


March - British Airways Senior First Officer Barbara Harmer becomes Concorde's first female pilot.


November - British Airways drops its Washington Concorde service.


February - Concorde G-BOAD crosses the Atlantic between New York and London in a record time of two hours, 52 minutes and 59 seconds on 7 February 1996.


July - Air France Concorde F-BTSC crashes in Paris minutes after take-off with a loss of all 109 people on board and four people on the ground. Following a short pause immediately after the crash, British Airways continued to fly Concorde insisting the aircraft was safe.

August - Concorde's Certificate of Airworthiness is withdrawn and all Air France and British Airways Concorde fleets are grounded pending the outcome of the accident investigation.

December - French investigators state a burst tyre caused a fuel tank to rupture. The tyre was punctured by a strip of titanium debris that had fallen from a Continental Airlines flight.


September - Certificate of Airworthiness is returned to modified Concordes.

November - British Airways and Air France restart Concorde services to New York following a £17m safety improvement programme.


June - In celebration of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, Concorde flies up the Mall with the Red Arrows.

November - A British Airways Concorde suffers the airline's fifth rudder failure en route to New York.


February - An Air France Concorde diverts to Nova Scotia after a fuel leak in the third engine caused it to be shut down.

April - British Airways and Air France make simultaneous announcements that Concorde is to be retired. Following the Paris crash passenger numbers failed to pick up and amid declining revenue from luxury air travel and the expensive maintenance programme, Concorde was no longer viable. 

May - Air France ends scheduled Concorde services with its final commercial flight from New York's JFK Airport to Paris Charles de Gaulle at 1218 GMT on 31 May 2003.

October - British Airways Concorde makes its last commercial flight from New York to London. It carried 100 celebrities and touched down at 1605 BST on 24 October 2003.

November - The final flight of a Concorde world-wide takes place on 26 November 2003 with Concorde G-BOAF landing at Filton.

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