RETURN TO FLIGHT



Reuters picture

Both Air France and British Airways have re-started Concorde services to New York. At 9:44 GMT, Air France Concorde F-BTSD departed from Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport as AF002. It arrived at New York's JFK airport a little over three and a half hours later, at 13:20 GMT.

Air France used the occasion to introduce a new gourmet menu that included fresh lobster, duck, petit-fours and an excellent choice of fine wines, selected by the 1992 world champion "sommelier", Philippe Faure-Brac.

The cockpit crew for the Air France flight was commanded by Captain Edgard Chillaud (AF chief Concorde pilot). Alongside were Captain Robert Vacchiani and Flight Engineer Roger Beral.

On board was Jean-Cyril Spinetta, President of Air France, accompanied by Jean-Claude Gayssot, French Minister for Transport, along with several personalities of the business and aviation world.


Picture - Paul Dopson
An hour after the Air France departure, the first British Airways Concorde service to New York for nearly 16 months took off as Speedbird Concorde 001 at 10:44 GMT. An American Airlines pilot waiting to take off was heard to call out "Go for it Concorde! Go!" as she sped down runway 27L at Heathrow.

Alpha Echo was greeted by New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani when she landed at 14:10 GMT (9:10 EST). Mayor Giuliani was then shown the cockpit of Concorde and posed for the photographers while hanging out of the co-pilots window. Mr Giuliani told passengers that "the bonds which have always bound together London and New York have been cemented even more following the disastrous events of September". As guests left the plane, he invited them to "spend, spend, spend".

The BA flight with 90 specially invited passengers on-board was flown by Concorde G-BOAE (Alpha Echo) and piloted by Captain Mike Bannister, BA's chief Concorde pilot, who told passengers over the cabin's intercom: "We have put Concorde back where she belongs. Sit back and relax. We're glad to be back." Along with Bannister on the flight deck was Senior First Officer Andy Barnwell, who is seen waving to the assembled media in New York, and Senior Flight Engineer Bob Woodcock.

The 90 passengers included representatives from government, big business, the aviation industry and celebrities. Those on board included the BA chief executive, Rod Eddington, who said his airline had taken more than 7,000 bookings for flights from London to New York and Barbados. With those bookings bringing in 20m, he went on to say that British business leaders had been invited on the flight to thank for their support. "Concorde is back and will be here for at least another decade."

Pop star Sting said he was delighted to be travelling on Concorde again, having been a regular customer for 20 years. "I'm still excited about going on Concorde even after all these years. Flying at twice the speed of sound gives you a buzz." He spent part of the flight patiently having his picture taken with BA Concorde captain Mike Bannister for the newspapers.

The media were also well represented on board: among them Piers Morgan of the Mirror who made notes and earnestly interviewed several BA executives. "I think I shall have to be filing something," he declared. Sky News anchor Kay Burley was also present on the flight. "No words could describe it," Kay said of the experience. "I was apprehensive but I knew I was in good hands."

Other well known people on the plane's guest list included Digby Jones, director general of the CBI, and Sir David Frost, who snoozed quietly at the back. The sole government representative was the transport minister, John Spellar, en route for bilateral talks in Washington on improving flying links between Britain and America.

At Heathrow, staff welcomed Concorde's return to service with emotion. "It means so much to us. We have been down for so long but we were never out," said a check-in clerk.

Earlier in the day 270 engineering staff, many who had been involved in the modifications that were made to Concorde to return the aircraft to service, waved the aircraft off as it departed under tow from the BA Concorde hanger at Hatton Cross on its way to Terminal 4.

After the passengers had disembarked from both aircraft at New York's JFK airport, the Air France Concorde (Sierra Delta) was towed to the BA terminal where she was placed 'Nose to Nose' with the British Airways Aircraft (Alpha Echo). The crews from both airlines posed in front of the parked aircraft to jointly commemorate the return to service in the same way that every major milestone in the entire Concorde project was shared simultaneously between the UK and France.

In the front row from left to right are: Edgar Chillaud (Air France), Edouard Michelin (one of the three top managers of the Michelin tyre company) and Mike Bannister (British Airways). Also in the picture are the flight attendants from each airline in addition to the First Officers and Flight Engineers.

Later the same day, the UK Prime Minister Tony Blair took-off on another British Airways Concorde (G-BOAF) bound for Washington DC. The Prime Minister's Washington trip by Concorde was to brief US President George W. Bush on his findings from his trip to the Middle East, that had taken place the previous week, and review the conduct of the US-led military campaign against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Blair flew back to the UK overnight on a 777 after the meeting, enabling him to get some sleep on the return flight after a busy day in London before setting off to the US for his early evening meeting.

Tony Blair's chartered Concorde, G-BOAF (Alpha Foxtrot), took off as BA9093 from the south runway at London Heathrow at 16:36 GMT headed for Washington, arriving at Andrews Air Force Base at 20:11 GMT (15:11 EST). Mr Blair spent around 5 hours in Washington before his overnight flight back home to Heathrow.

The Concorde that flew the Prime Minister to Washington was re-positioned to JFK the following day to serve as a back-up aircraft for the very first BA002 service. The BA002 was flown as planned by G-BOAE. G-BOAF was not required and followed home empty, 30 minutes behind Alpha Echo, as BA002P.

Picture at Andrews AFB - Reuters


To read more about the Concorde Re-launch - See Chapter 12 of the Concorde "Return to Service" article

BA 001

Aircraft G-BOAE (212)
Cockpit Crew Mike Bannister (BA chief Concorde pilot)
Captain Andy Barnwell
Bob Woodcock (Senior Engineering Officer)
Dick Maher (Senior Engineering Officer)
Captain Richard Owen
Departure London - Heathrow 10:44 GMT
Arrival New York - John F. Kennedy 14:10 GMT (09:10 EST)
Routing Heathrow - Bristol Channel - South of Ireland - North Atlantic - Sabre Island - Nantucket - New York JFK
Max Speed Mach 2.01 (around 1,350 mph)
Max Height 60,000 ft (around 11 miles)
Milestones First full British Airways passenger flight for paying customers to New York since the Paris accident in July 2000


AF 002

Aircraft F-BTSD (213)
Cockpit Crew Captain Edgard Chillaud (AF chief Concorde pilot)
Captain Robert Vacchiani
Flight Engineer Roger Beral
Departure Paris Charles De Gaulle 09:44 GMT
Arrival New York - John F. Kennedy 13:20 GMT (08:20 EST)
Routing CDG - Caen - English Channel - South of Ireland - North Atlantic - Sabre Island - Nantucket - New York JFK
Max Speed Mach 2.01 (around 1,350 mph)
Max Height 60,000 ft (around 11 miles)
Milestones First full Air France passenger flight for paying customers to New York since the Paris accident in July 2000


BA 9093

BLAIR FORCE ONE

Aircraft G-BOAF (216)
Cockpit crew

Captain Les Brodie (BA Concorde flight training manager)
Captain Stewart Bates
Senior Engineering OfficerPeter Carrigan
Senior First Officer Mark Walden (Supernumerary Pilot)
Senior Engineering Officer Jez Wood (Supernumerary Flight Engineer)

The supernumerary staff were on board to enable crew training on the return leg.

Departure London - Heathrow 16:36 GMT
Arrival Washington - Andrews AFB 20:11GMT (15:11 EST)
Routing Heathrow - Bristol Channel - South of Ireland - North Atlantic - Sabre Island - Nantucket - Plume - Washington
Max Speed Mach 2.01 (around 1,350 mph)
Max Height 60,000 ft (around 11 miles)
Milestones 2nd flight with Concorde carrying British Prime Minister Tony Blair


FULL BRITISH AIRWAYS PRESS RELEASE

The world's fastest passenger jet returns to the skies on Wednesday, November, 7.

A British Airways Concorde packed with some of the UK's top business leaders and hosted by the airline's chief executive Rod Eddington is set to depart at 10.30 am, arriving just over three hours later at New York's JFK airport at 9.25 am.

Rod Eddington said: "Concorde is back. Its return comes at a symbolic time."

"British business leaders have been invited on this first flight as a thank you for their support for Concorde over the years and to reaffirm our commitment to business travel between the UK and USA. We look forward to carrying our customers supersonically on our flagship plane for many years to come."

Also onboard will be representatives from the government, the aviation industry and the media.

New York's Mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, will welcome Concorde's return in New York.

Mayor Giuliani, said: "New York has been home to Concorde for more than 20 years and it is with great pride that we welcome this symbol of European and American commerce back to New York. Welcome home Concorde. You were missed."

British Airways is resuming Concorde flights with an initial six times a week service between London Heathrow and New York JFK, and from December a weekly service from Heathrow to Barbados


FULL AIR FRANCE PRESS RELEASE (Translation)

Concorde will fly again towards New York on Wednesday November 7 2001.

On board will be Jean-Cyril Spinetta, President of Air France, accompanied by Jean-Claude Gayssot, French Minister for Transport and several personalities of the aeronautical world. The supersonic aircraft will take off from Roissy Charles-de-Gaulle on 7 November at 10h30 and will land at around 8h25 local at J.F. Kennedy Airport New York. The total duration of the flight will be 3h55.

For the President of Air France, the resumption of the supersonic flights is " the sign of our confidence in the future of air transport as well as the occasion to pay homage to the citizens of New York ".

Rudolph Giuliani, Mayor of New York, who will welcome Concorde and its passengers, is pleased with the return of Concorde on American soil: " New York has received Concorde for more than 20 years and it is with an immense pride that New York greets the return of this symbol of trade between Europe and the United States. Welcome at home! We missed you !", he declared.

This first commercial flight will signal the resumption of the supersonic connections between Paris-New York with Concorde, at the rate of 5 weekly flights. Flying from Roissy Charles-de-Gaulle, Concorde will take off Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday at 10h30 (instead of 11h00 previously) and land 3h55 later at J.F. Kennedy Airport, New York. On the same days, Concorde will leave New York at 8h00 in the morning and arrive at Paris-Roissy at 17h45.

Concorde had received on September 5th 2001 its certificate of airworthiness, after having undergone various engineering changes.

The arrival of Concorde in New York will be immediately followed by a dual press conference with British Airways in the presence of Rudolph Giuliani, Mayor of New York, Jean-Claude Gayssot, French Minister for Transport, John Spellar, his British counterpart, Jean-Cyril Spinetta, President of Air France and Rod Eddington, Chief Executive of British Airways.