www.benlovejoy.com | Concorde | Facts & figures

A few facts & figures ...

A total of 20 Concordes were built.

The first ever test flight was in 1969, but she didn't enter passenger service until 1976.

Concordes have notched up a combined total of around 250 million miles.

They have thus flown more supersonic miles than all the world's military aircraft put together.

Concorde flew at Mach 2: over 1350mph. This is faster than a bullet.

Concorde cruised at up to 60,000 feet (11 miles) - higher than jet fighters .

A typical London to NY flight was 3h 30m; the record is 2h 52m 59s.

She stretched more than 15cm during supersonic flight due to the heat caused by air friction

Finally, why the famous drooping nose? To enable an aircraft to fly at supersonic speeds, it needs to be extremely streamlined. This involves narrow wings, which means that they need to fly faster to stay in the air - so they have to land at high speeds. All other supersonic aircraft (jet fighters) thus use parachutes to help brake after landing.

Clearly parachute brakes are not very practical at Heathrow, so the designers had to find some way of allowing her to land at a lower speed. They realised that if she could approach and land at a very high 'angle of attack' (very nose-up), then that would generate more lift at lower speeds and enable her to land at a reasonable speed (though still faster than other airliners). The problem with this idea was that the pilots wouldn't be able to see the runway!

So the idea of the drooping nose was born. For take-off and landing, the nose-cone was lowered so that the pilots can look downwards. Once on her way to cruising altitude, the nose is raised to streamline her ready for supersonic flight.

Incidentally, the very high angle of attack on landing is the reason that Concorde is fitted with a small tail-wheel. If the pilots accidentally let her rotate a bit more than needed, the engines would actually hit the runway. The tailwheel was designed to prevent her rotating too far.

 

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