Plane landing a Los Angeles LAX airport at sunset

Fascinating Facts About the Timeline of the Path-breaking Concorde

Concorde, the first and only commercial supersonic aircraft, retired from the fleet of British Airways on October 23, 2003, when its last flight with fare paying passengers flew from London to New York.
Remote-controlled Concorde scale model
When the fleet of Concorde was retired, media reports quoted British Airways (BA) chairman, Lord Marshall, as saying, "Everyone has enormous pride in all that she has achieved, but there is inevitable sadness, that we have to move on and say farewell".

British Airways and Air France made a joint announcement on its retirement in the month of April in 2003, and eventually, the French Concorde's final flight was in the following month of May. Concorde failed to recover after a horrific crash near Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, in which 113 people died. British Airways decided to retire the famous aircraft after 27 years of service, because, it was no longer thought to be profitable. There were several rudder failures during Concorde's later years. According to experts, this was not a major safety concern, because in theory, the rudder was not crucial for the flying of Concordes, except in some situations, such as, cross wind or engine failure. However, it was an embarrassing problem for the flagship aircraft, and engineers struggled to resolve it. Eventually, a rudder replacement program was introduced in 1992.

As the last ever Concorde, there was a wave of applause, followed by a huge cheer, from the thousands of people who had gathered there specifically for this historical event. The sight of the three supersonic jets landing one after another, was itself an extraordinary event for the enthusiasts in the crowd, some of whom had traveled from as far away as South Africa.

The last transatlantic flight of the Concorde carried 100 celebrities from New York, and touched down at 16:05 BST, at the Heathrow airport. Before entering the Concorde cockpit for the last time, Captain Mike Bannister said that he was "proud and privileged" to fly the plane back from New York. "What we have tried to do is to make the retirement of Concorde a celebration - something that both the public and the airline can look back at with pride".

Concorde fact sheet:

1 October 1969: First supersonic flight.

13 September 1970: First landing at Heathrow.

26 September 1973: First non-stop crossing of the Atlantic.

23 November 1973: Prince Philip flies supersonic for the first time. The husband of Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of Edinburgh, began the royal family's long association with Concorde, by joining the test flight in 1972. The aircraft was used for several overseas state visits in the following years.

22 November 1977: British Airways and Air France begin services to New York. Getting permission for Concorde to land for the crucial North Atlantic route was a long enduring saga due to local concerns over its noise. Despite the technical data suggesting that it would be no worse than an existing Boeing 707, the battle went all the way to the Supreme Court, America's highest, where the ruling eventually went Concorde's way.

1 November 1986: First round the world charter flight, total flying time of 31 hours 51 minutes.

31 May 2003: This was the last Air France Concorde flight. On its last commercial journey, the French Concorde left New York's JFK Airport at 12:18 GMT, and arrived at Paris Charles de Gaulle three hours later. The Airline's five Concordes, have all gone on public display, three in France, one in the US, and one in Germany, for which, the aircraft was cut into pieces for the final journey by road and canal before being reassembled. Both, British Airways and Air France plan to keep the Concordes as museum pieces, or keep them in ready condition to fly, when the occasion demands it.

23 October 2003: Last British Airways Concorde flight.
Advertisement