The future of Concorde, the Anglo-French supersonic jetliner, is still in doubt. After talks in?
The future of Concorde, the Anglo-French supersonic jetliner, is still in doubt. After talks in London today (Tuesday, December 15) between M. Robert Galley, France's Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, and Mr. Frederick Corfield, Britain's Minister of Aviation Supply, it was decided to postpone until next year any decision to push it into full production. M. Galley was sitting in for the French Transport Minister, M. Raymond Mondon, who is ill. The next Anglo-French meeting on Concorde is scheduled for February (1971).
The commercial aircraft journey through the sound barrier began in 1952 when subsonic jetliners were first introduced to public service. The journey time from London to New York was cut to a mere seven and a half hours.
Now, the three-hour London-New York flight is just around the corner -- with the Anglo-French Concorde, the United States Boeing SST, and the Russian TU 144 scrambling for the honours. The Russian TU 144 and Concorde are neck and neck to date, both aircraft have gone through the sound barrier -- 700 plus miles per hour. But the U.S. rival is still in the mock-up stage.
The competition has been fierce, and progress not nearly as smooth as the aircraft themselves. Money troubles have beset the British and American 'planes, and long delays between Russian progress reports on the TU 144 have led to speculations of technical trouble and even major flying disasters.
To 'plane-watchers in Britain and France, Concorde is already a familiar sight. Two have been built -- 002 in England, and 001 across the channel. Concorde is designed to carry 135 passenger at speeds up to 1,350 miles per hour (2,179 kilometres per hour). Ranged against Concorde are critics of its high cost -- already more than 730 million pounds sterling -- and conservationists, who fear the effects of sonic booms. One body, which bought several very expensive columns of the London Times to air its views, described the aircraft as "an anti-social menace". After sound barrier tests over the Western British Isles, some damage was reported.
Fifty full-scale test flights are due to take place with Concorde over the next three years, but the aircraft is not expected to go into service until 1973. Meanwhile, the Russian rival is also undergoing supersonic tests. Costing figures show that Concorde can compete favourably with sub-sonic airliners -- an important point to Concorde makers.
Meanwhile, the Russian rival is also undergoing supersonic tests. A 120-seater, closely resembling Concorde, it made its maiden flight on New Year's Eve, 1968 -- months ahead of its Anglo-French rival. And while the U.S.S.R. State Aircraft Exporting Corporation said it had received enquiries from a number of countries -- but declining to name them -- the head of Pan-American Airways, who inspected the TU 144 in Moscow last year (1968), said he might consider buying it.
Across the Atlantic, critics of the Boeing SST echo their British counterparts -- claiming the cost will exceed 3,000 million dollars (GBP1,250 million sterling) in public funds -- and even then it will not go into production until 1978. The future of the Boeing superjet is still in doubt -- while the U.S. joint committee of the Senate and House of Representatives recently agreed to continue financing it, the proposal still faces a stiff fight in the Senate. The SST is important to the whole future of the Boeing Company.
The commercial feasibility of supersonic aircraft generally is also in doubt, with moves afoot both in Britain and American to ban supersonic flights over land. Such a ban would undoubtedly limit their economic value, say experts.
Once, it was technical hitches which held up man's progress to fly faster and faster. Today, the situation has reversed, and aircraft can fly at twice the speed of sound. The planemakers have the know-how -- but will they be allowed to use it?
SYNOPSIS: The future of Concorde, the Anglo-French supersonic jetliner, is still in doubt. After talks in London today (Tuesday) between M. Robert Galley, France's Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, and Mr. Frederick Corfield, Britain's Minister of Aviation Supply, it was decided to postpone until next year any decision to push it into full production. M. Galley was sitting in for the French Transport Minister, Mr. Raymond Mondon, who is ill. The next Anglo-french meeting on Concorde is scheduled for February (1971).
Earlier this month (December 1970), the French Minister of Defence, M. Michel Debre, flew at twice the speed of sound in the French prototype of Concorde -- 001. The aircraft was piloted by Andre Turcat, chief test pilot of Aerospatial, who make the aircraft in co-operation with the British Aircraft Corporation. The Minister told reporters after the 160-minute flight: "You hardly notice a thing when you pass Mach One, the speed of sound. You notice absolutely nothing when, you go from Mach One to Mach Two."
Work on Concorde began several years ago - but the commercial aircraft journey through the sound barrier began in 1952 when sub-sonic jetliners were first introduced to public service. The journey time from London to New York was cut to seven and a half hours. Now, it is just a matter of time before it is reduced to a mere three hours. The British Concorde, 002, took to the air in April 1969 - five weeks after the French version flew for the first time.
Meanwhile, the United States supersonic project suffered a set-back when the swing-wing Boeing was scraped soon after it reached the model stage. Critics slammed the aircraft, and the government stepped into the row.
The swing-wing design was replaced by a more conventional fixed-wing jetliner, on which the United States is still working. The airliner is not expected to go into public service until 1978 - far behind its Anglo-French and Russian rivals. Critics of the Boeing SST echo their British counterparts -- both claiming that supersonic aircraft take too much out of public funds. The future of the Boeing is still in doubt, and has yet to face a stiff fight in the United States Senate.
It was the Russians who beat the world to put a supersonic airliner in the air. On New Year's Eve, 1968, the 120-seater TU 144 took off for a successful flight. Unofficial reports of technical hitches have ben received, and the TU 144 appears to be neck and neck with Concorde in its progress.
But the future of supersonics is still in doubt until the plane-makers triumph over economic and the difficulties.