21 January 1976: The first scheduled supersonic passenger airliners, Air France’s Concorde F-BVFA, and British Airways’ Concorde G-BOAA, took off simultaneously at 11:40 a.m. F-BVFA departed Paris en route Rio de Janero, with a stop at Dakar, and G-BOAA departed London Heathrow en route Bahrain.
Air France Flight AF 085 was flown by Commandant de bord, Captain Pierre Jean Louis Chanoine-Martiel, with Captain Pierre Dudal, Chief Pilot, Concorde Division, as co-pilot; and Officier Mécanicien Navigant (Flight Engineer) André Blanc.
The British Airways’ flight, BA 300, using the call sign “Speedbird Concorde,” was crewed by Captain Norman Victor Todd, Captain Brian James Calvert and Flight Engineer John Lidiard. The British Aircraft Corporation’s Chief Test Pilot, Ernest Brian Trubshaw, C.B.E., M.V.O., was also aboard.
G-BOAA arrived on time at 15:20. F-BVFA, after a delay at Dakar, arrived at Rio de Janeiro at 19:00.
In 1977, the Royal Aero Club awarded its Britannia Trophy to Captain Todd for “the most meritorious performance in aviation during 1976.”
26 November 2003: Concorde 216, G-BOAF, made the final flight of the Concorde fleet when it flew from London Heathrow Airport (LHR) to Bristol Filton Airport (FZO) with 100 British Airways employees on board. The aircraft was under the command of Captain Les Brodie, with Chief Pilot Captain Mike Bannister and Captain Paul Douglas, with Senior Flight Engineers Warren Hazleby and Trevor Norcott. The duration of the flight was just over 1 hour, 30 minutes, and included both supersonic and low-altitude segments.
Concorde 216 was the last of twenty Concordes to be built. It was originally registered G-BFKX and made its first flight at Bristol Filton Airport, 20 April 1979. The new airliner was delivered to British Airways 9 June 1980 and was re-registered G-BOAF. “Alpha-Foxtrot” had flown a total of 18,257 hours by the time it completed its final flight. It had made 6,045 takeoffs and landings, and had gone supersonic 5,639 times.
G-BOAF was placed in storage at Filton. It is intended as the centerpiece of Bristol Aerospace Centre, scheduled to open in 2017.
The Concorde supersonic transport, known as an “SST,” was built by the British Aerospace Corporation and Sud-Aviation. There were six pre-production aircraft and fourteen production airliners. British Airways and Air France each operated seven Concordes. It was a Mach 2+ delta-winged intercontinental passenger transport, operated by a flight crew of three and capable of carrying 128 passengers.
The production airliners were 202 feet, 4 inches long (61.671 meters) when at rest. During supersonic flight the length would increase due to metal expansion from frictional heating. The wingspan was 83 feet, 10 inches (25.552 meters) and overall height was 40 feet (12.192 meters). The fuselage was very narrow, just 9 feet, 5 inches at the widest point. The Concorde has an empty weight of 173,500 pounds (78,698 kilograms) and a maximum takeoff weight of 408,000 pounds (185,066 kilograms).
The Concorde is powered by four Rolls-Royce/SNECMA Olympus 593 Mk.610 afterburning turbojet engines. The Olympus 593 is a two-shaft, axial-flow engine with a 14-stage compressor section (7 low- and 7 high-pressure stages), single combustion chamber and a two-stage turbine (1 low- and 1 high-pressure stage). The Mk.610 was rated at 139.4 kilonewtons (31,338 pounds of thrust), and 169.2 kilonewtons (38,038 pounds) with afterburner. During supersonic cruise, the engines produced 10,000 pounds of thrust ( kilonewtons, each. The Olympus 593 Mk.610 is 7,112 meters (23 feet, 4.0 inches) long, 1.212 meters (3 feet, 11.72 inches) in diameter, and weighs 3,175 kilograms (7,000 pounds).
The maximum cruise speed is Mach 2.05. Concorde’s operating altitude is 60,000 feet (18,288 meters). Maximum range is 4,500 miles (7,242 kilometers).
24 October 2003: At 4:05 p.m. BST, the final commercial flight of the British Airways Concorde came to an end with the landing of G-BOAG at London Heathrow Airport. It landed third in sequence with G-BOAE and G-BOAF after all three supersonic airliners had made a low pass over London.
G-BOAG had flown from New York under the command of Captain Mike Bannister, with First Officer Jonathan Napier and Engineer Officer David Hoyle. There were 100 celebrity passengers on board.
“Alpha Golf,” British Aerospace serial number 100-214, was the final Concorde built in Britain, and, at its retirement, was the lowest-time Concorde in British Airway’s fleet. It first flew at Filton, 21 April 1978, registered G-BFKW. It was delivered to British Airways 6 February 1980. In 1981, 100-214 was re-registered as G-BOAG. During the early 1980s, it was taken out of service and used as a source for parts for the other Concordes, but returned to airworthy status in 1985.
After a series of farewell flights, G-BOAG was retired to The Museum of Flight, Seattle, Washington. It had flown 16,239 hours, made 5,066 takeoffs and landings and had gone supersonic 5,633 times.
16 July 1983: At 11:10 a.m., a British Airways Sikorsky S-61N-69 Sea King helicopter, c/n 61-770, registration G-BEON, departed Penzance Heliport enroute across the Celtic Sea to St. Mary’s Airport, Isles of Scilly. On board were a crew of 3 and 23 passengers. Visibility was poor due to fog. Flying under visual flight rules, the helicopter was at 250 feet (76 meters) while the pilots tried to maintain visual contact with the surface of the calm sea.
Because of the limited visual cues, the crew did not recognize that they were in a slight descent. At approximately 11:35 a.m., the Sikorsky slammed into the ocean at cruise speed. It sank almost immediately. Only six persons survived, including the pilots, Dominic Lawlor and Neil Charleton. The helicopter sank to the sea bed 200 feet (61 meters) below. It was later recovered by the salvage vessel RMAS Seaforth Clansman, along with the bodies of 17 victims.
The official investigation determined that the cause of the accident was pilot error by their failure to recognize and correct the unintentional descent while attempting to fly in conditions not suitable for visual flight. This was the worst helicopter accident in terms of fatalities up to that time.
The Sikorsky S-61N is a civil variant of the United States Navy HSS-2 Sea King. The first S-61N, s/n 61143, first flew 7 August 1962. It is a large twin-engine helicopter with a single main rotor/tail rotor configuration. The S-61N fuselage is 4 feet, 2 inches (1.270 meters) longer than that of the HSS-2. The S-61N is 72 feet, 7 inches (22.123 meters) long and 16 feet, 10 inches (5.131 meters) high, with rotors turning.
The main rotor has five blades and a diameter of 62 feet (18.898 meters). Each blade has a chord of 1 foot, 6.25 inches (0.464 meters). The tail rotor also has five blades and a diameter of 10 feet, 4 inches (3.149 meters). They each have a chord of 7–11/32 inches (0.187 meters). At 100% r.p.m., the main rotor turns 203 r.p.m. and the tail rotor, 1,244 r.p.m. The main rotor turns counter-clockwise, as seen from above. (The advancing blade is on the helicopter’s right side.) The tail rotor turns clockwise, as seen from the left side. (The advancing blade is below.)
G-BEON was powered by two General Electric CT58-140-1 turboshaft engines, each of which had maximum power rating of 1,400 shaft horsepower for takeoff and 1,500 SHP for 2½ minutes. The main transmission was rated for 2,300 horsepower, maximum.
The S-61 has a cruise speed of 166 miles per hour (267 kilometers per hour). The service ceiling is 12,500 feet (3,810 meters). The maximum takeoff weight is 20,500 pounds (9,298.6 kilograms).
Between 1958 and 1980, Sikorsky built 794 S-61 series helicopters. 123 were S-61Ns.
24 June 1982: British Airways Flight 9, a Boeing 747-236B, G-BDXH, City of Edinburgh, enroute from London, England, to Aukland, New Zealand, was cruising at 37,000 feet (11,278 meters) with 248 passengers and 15 crewmembers on board. The airliner was under the command of Captain Eric H. J. Moody, with Senior First Officer Roger Greaves and Senior Flight Engineer Barry Townley-Freeman on the flight deck. It operated with the call sign, “Speedbird 9.”
At 10:42 p.m., local time (13:42 UTC), approximately 110 miles (188 kilometers) south of Jakarta, Indonesia, the airliner’s number four engine began surging and then flamed out. A minute later engine number two also surged and flamed out. Then, simultaneously, engines one and three failed as well.
Volcanic dust from erupting Mount Gallanggung, a 7,113 foot (2,168 meters) stratovolcano located in West Java, 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of Bandung, had been ingested by the engines and melted inside the combustion chambers, cutting off the airflow and shutting each of them down. The 747 had a glide ratio of 15:1. The flight crew turned Speedbird 9 toward Jakarta while they went through emergency procedures.
Captain Eric Moody made the following announcement to the passengers:
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are doing our damnedest to get them going again. I trust you are not in too much distress.”
At 13,500 feet (4,115 meters), the flight crew was finally able to get one engine restarted and soon after, a second. Eventually all four engines were running and the 747 began to regain altitude. The Number Two engine again began to surge so the crew shut it down and the 747 remained at 12,000 feet (3,658 meters).
On approach to Jakarta, though good visibility was reported, the flight crew could barely see the airport lights. It was later determined that the windshield was completely sandblasted by the volcanic dust. Speedbird 9 safely landed with no injuries. Captain Moody later said, “The airplane seemed to kiss the earth and we were on the ground safely.”
G-BDXG was repaired and flown back to London, where it underwent further, more extensive repairs.
Captain Moody and Senior Cabin Services Officer Graham Skinner were awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air. Guinness Book of Records lists Flight 9 as the longest glide of any aircraft not designed for gliding.
CENTRAL CHANCERY OF
THE ORDERS OF KNIGHTHOOD
ST. JAMES’S PALACE, LONDON S.W.I
11th June, 1983
The QUEEN has been graciously pleased, on the occasion of the Celebration of Her Majesty’s Birthday, to approve the award of The Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air:
The Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air
Eric Henry John MOODY, Captain, British Airways.
Graham SKINNER, Cabin Services Officer, British Airways.
—Supplement to the London Gazette, Supplement 49375, Saturday, 11th June 1983, at Page B28
Captain Moody served with British Airways for 32 years, retiring in 1996 with over 17,000 flight hours.
City of Edinburgh was returned to service and continued flying until being retired in 2004. It was scrapped at Bournemouth Airport, Dorset, England, in 2009.