The Concorde first flew decades ago, and yet it remains the pinnacle of civil aviation development for one reason - speed. The Concorde is the only aircraft in the world operating scheduled passenger flights at supersonic speed.

An engineering masterpiece, the Concorde was the result of a collaborative venture between the aviation industries of Britain and France. It dates back to design work for a supersonic airliner carried out by Sud Aviation and Bristol, their respective Super Caravelle and Bristol 233 designs being remarkably similar in configuration to each other. The forecast high costs of any SST program and the similarities in the designs led to a 1962 government agreement between France and Britain which resulted in the British Aircraft Corporation (into which Bristol had been merged) and SudAviation (which became a part of Aerospatiale in 1970) joining to design and develop such an aircraft.

Talks with airlines in the 1960s resulted in a relatively long range aircraft design capable of flying trans Atlantic sectors (although for a time Sud offered a short haul version). Design of the airframe was refined to feature a highly complex delta wing featuring cambering and ogival leading edges with pairs of engines mounted in pods under the wing undersurface. The slender fuselage features a high fineness ratio to keep supersonic drag to a minimum, while the fuel system was designed to trim the aircraft longitudinally by transferring fuel between tanks to combat the change in the centre of pressure as the aircraft accelerates. Another feature is the variable geometry nose which is lowered while taxiing, on takeoff and landing to improve the flight crew's visibility.

A lengthy development program following the Concorde's first flight on March 2 1969 meant that it did not enter into airline service until January 1976.

On May 30 2003 the last commercial Air France flight landed back at Paris Charles de Gaulle from New York. The very last flight for Air France was made on June 27 2003 when F-BVFC flew from Paris to its place of construction in Toulouse for preservation.

Airspeed, and Altitude Limits
Maximum Operating Cruise Speed Mach 2.04 (around 1350MPH)
Maximum Permissible Range 4500 Miles (3900 Nautical Miles)
Average Take-off speed 250MPH
Average Landing speed 185MPH
Maximum landing gear speed 270Kts (Mach 0.7)
Maximum operating altitude 60,000Ft
Normal type pressure 230 PSI
Maximum visor down speed 325Kts (Mach 0.8)
Maximum nose down (5 degrees) speed 325Kts (Mach 0.8)
Maximum nose down (12.5 degrees) speed 270 Kts (Mach 0.7) below 20,000ft
Maximum speed for landing light extension 270 Kts
Maximum fuel jettison speed Mach 0.93
Maximum speed for windscreen wiper operation 325Kts (Mach 0.8)
Maximum positive incidence (angle of attack) 16.5 Degrees
Maximum negative incidence (angle of attack) -5.5 Degrees (Above Mach 1.0)
Temperature and pressure limits
Maximum Total Temperature (TMO) 127 Degrees Celsius  (on nose)
Maximum Oil temp for start and takeoff 125 Degrees Celsius  
Maximum Oil temp for takeoff and 5min transient 195 Degrees Celsius
Maximum Oil temp Continuous operation 190 Degrees Celsius  
Minimum Oil temp for starting -35 Degrees Celsius  
Minimum Oil temp for advance above idle -20 Degrees Celsius
Minimum Oil Pressure for continued operation 5 PSI
Minimum Oil Pressure for take off 10 PSI
Minimum Fuel temp for start up -40 Degrees Celsius
Minimum Fuel temp for advance above idle -40 Degrees Celsius
Maximum Fuel temp for continued operation 50 Degrees Celsius
Maximum Fuel pressure at Engine inlet 20 PSIA
Maximum Fuel pressure at Engine inlet 7 PSI