At one point of time, the world’s first supersonic plane was the most famous plane in the world. Passengers that could pay the high ticket price (five times that of the cost of other flights) could fly across the Atlantic ocean in 3.5 hours in a groundbreaking and unique aircraft. But on June 25th, 2000 a tragic event occurred in Paris’s Charles de Gaulle Airport which would ultimately hasten the end of the Concorde.
The Concorde was developed through a collaboration between British Aircraft Corporation and Aerospatiale of France. They gave Air France and British Airways the Concorde model for much less money. There were twenty Concordes built throughout its development and use, six of which were prototypes never used in service.
When it was in the process of being brought to service, the aircraft’s test flights produced sonic booms that really bothered people on the ground so they could only fly it over the ocean.
Its first ever passenger flight was on September 26th, 1973 and it started with British Airways flying to Bahrain. Then Air France flew it from Paris to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
On July 25, 2000 Air France flight 4590 was scheduled to fly to New York from Paris and had 109 people on board including crew. Right upon take off the plane suffered an error which would, in a few minutes change airplane history.
Five minutes before it took off, another aircraft had taken off but lost a small strip of metal which would end up being fatal. When the Concorde was gaining speed, it ran over that piece from the previous plane that flew up and it hit the engine and it caused fuel to leak out and the engines on the left side couldn’t function properly. At this point one of the most famous Concorde photos were created which showed the plane on fire. When the plane caught on fire it was too late to abort takeoff as it already reached the maximum speed allowed. The plane took off but was trying to divert to another airport immediately so it could land and prevent harming passengers but it was unable to.
After two minutes in the air, the plane couldn’t stay up any longer and crashed into the Hôtelissimo Les Relais Bleus Hotel, killing 109 passengers and four employees of the hotel.
Air France and British Airways couldn’t make money back anymore and a big factor of that was the crash. Tickets to fly on the Concorde were expensive and the ticket money could weight out the maintenance costs, but since passenger levels were going down it was extremely difficult to pay it off. Maintenance prices were also rising too so it made it even more difficult to keep the Concorde in service.
The two companies couldn’t manage to keep the Concorde available anymore, so, in 2003 (three years after the crash in 2000), they announced the Concorde would stop service and the last flight ever would occur during June 2003.
Image Credit: GodefroyParis