Concorde: The Supersonic Jet Era

Photo Credit: Charlie Carter/AviationSource

LONDON – In this piece, we’ll look back on the history of Concorde, its impact on air travel, as well as its legacy that still lives on today.

The supersonic jet era began in 1976 when Concorde took off from London and headed to Bahrain as well as Paris to Rio De Janeiro via Dakar.

Not only did this flight mark the first time a civilian aircraft had flown faster than sound, but it also marked a new era in air travel – one in which people could fly around the world faster than ever before.

For over 25 years, Concorde was a symbol of progress and innovation, allowing passengers to travel at twice the speed of sound and make transatlantic flights in just under three hours.

What is Concorde?

Alexander Jonsson (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2, via Wikimedia Commons

Concorde was a supersonic jet airliner that operated from 1976 to 2003. It was jointly developed by French and British aerospace companies and was the first supersonic passenger jet to enter service.

The aircraft flew at speeds of up to Mach 2.04, making it the fastest commercial airliner at the time. Concorde had a distinctive design, with a long nose and a delta wing configuration. It could seat up to 128 passengers in a pressurized cabin and had a range of 4,488 mi (7,222.8 km).

The History of Concorde…

Concorde was developed in the late 1950s and early 1960s by a consortium of British Aerospace and Aerospatiale. It first flew in 1969 and was operated by British Airways and Air France.

The development of Concorde began in 1956 when Britain, France, and West Germany signed a treaty to develop a supersonic transport aircraft.

British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) and Sud Aviation were selected as the lead contractors, with BAC responsible for the design and construction of the aircraft, and Sud Aviation responsible for the engines. The consortium also included several other companies from across Europe.

The first prototype of Concorde, known as Concorde 1 or 001, made its maiden flight on March 2, 1969, in Toulouse.

The aircraft had a number of teething problems during its early test flights, but these were eventually ironed out. The second prototype, Concorde 2 or 002, made its first flight later that year as the first UK-built Concorde from Bristol’s Filton Airport.

Concorde then entered commercial service in 1976 with both British Airways and Air France, with the aircraft being popular with passengers, however, it was never a huge financial success for either airline. The high cost of operating Concorde meant that only a small number of routes were viable.

The last ever commercial flight of Concorde took place on October 24, 2003. The aircraft was then retired due to its high operating costs and reduced ticket sales.

The aircraft made its last-ever flight back to its home in Bristol on November 26, 2003, closing the end of the aircraft’s supersonic reign.

How Concorde Works…

Eduard Marmet, CC BY-SA 3.0 GFDL 1.2, via Wikimedia Commons

The Concorde supersonic jet was a marvel of engineering when it made its maiden flight in 1969. The jet could fly at speeds over Mach 2, twice the speed of sound. But how did this amazing feat of aviation come about?

It all started with British aerospace engineer Sir Frank Whittle. In the 1930s, he designed a turbojet engine that could propel an aircraft at high speeds. His work was continued by others, including French engineer Marcel Dassault, who helped develop the delta wing design that would be used on the Concorde.

All of these technologies came together to create a supersonic jet that could cross the Atlantic Ocean in just under three hours.

The Pros and Cons of Concorde…

Hugh Llewelyn from Keynsham, UK, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Concorde was the first and only supersonic commercial airliner. It was developed jointly by British Airways and Air France.

The jet made its maiden flight in 1976 and began regular service in 1977. It flew at twice the speed of sound and could seat up to 128 passengers.

The Concorde had many advantages over other aircraft. It could fly across the Atlantic Ocean in less than three hours. This cut travel time between London and New York by more than half.

It also had a much higher cruising altitude than other aircraft, which meant that it was less affected by bad weather.

However, Concorde also had some disadvantages. It was very loud and emitted a loud sonic boom when it broke the sound barrier.


Concorde was a remarkable aircraft that changed the way we traveled. Although its time in commercial service has come to an end, it will always have a special place in our hearts and minds as the first commercial supersonic jet.

Its legacy lives on with other amazing aviation innovations. May the Concorde fly forever!

By Jamie Clarke 6 Min Read
6 Min Read
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