Monday, January 21, 2013
The first scheduled commercial flights of the Concorde aircraft began on January 21, 1976, departing from London's Heathrow (to Bahrain) and Orly Airport near Paris (to Rio de Janiero). First flown in 1969, the turbojet-powered supersonic transport (SST) was jointly developed by Aérospatiale and the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) under an Anglo-French treaty. At cruising speeds, Concorde flew well above the sound barrier at 1,350 miles an hour, cutting conventional air travel time by more than half. With only 20 built, the aircraft was an economic drain. Air France and British Airways received subsidies for their purchase and operation. Concorde was retired in 2003 after one crashed in Paris in 2000, followed by an aviation industry downturn after the 9/11 attacks and a decision to stop costly maintenance support. The engineering marvel flew commercial flights for 27 years, catering heavily to celebrities and the wealthy.