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Tuesday, 24 July, 2001, 10:24 GMT 11:24 UK
Can Concorde regain its status?

Concorde takes to the air again on Tuesday, for its first test flight since the fleet was grounded following last year's crash in Paris.

Since the accident, in which 113 people died, 17m has been spent improving the safety of the aircraft.

Fuel tanks have been reinforced and the plane's wheels redesigned, to try to prevent a repeat of last year's tragic chain of events that led to the crash.

But even if Concorde is allowed to fly again, British Airways and Air France will have a difficult job erasing from the public consciousness those images of the airplane on fire hurtling towards disaster.

Can the airplane ever regain its status and prestige? Are the new safety features good enough?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


Your reaction


We'll take son of Concorde for granted

Phil W, UK
The aircraft never lost its status, and the safety features now make a safe aircraft even safer. To the sceptics. Were you the same breed of people who refused to fly the first commercial aircraft because they were new and the rich man's toy? You perhaps come from a line of sceptics who thought the car would never replace the horse? I'll bet you fly 747's now and drive a car?

Concorde is the pioneering first of many of its breed of aircraft, and in years to come, the design will be refined and mass transport at the speed of sound will become standard - with cleaner, quieter engines. We'll take son of Concorde for granted, and wonder what it was ever like to travel sub-sonic.
Phil W, UK

I am surprised at Dr Shuttleworth's assertion that Concorde's engines are inefficient. The Rolls Royce SNECMA Olympus engines of Concorde are exceptionally thermally efficient. I don't believe any other aero engine comes close. Also Concorde is the only aircraft of any description which can fly at Mach two without using reheat. Certainly with afterburners alight at take-off it produces an obvious smoke trail, as fuel is less completely burned in this mode. But having reached cruising speed with reheat off, these engines produce no more pollutants than any other jet engine. Let her fly.
Mark Kaye, Australia

Let the ticket sales speak for themselves.
Gary Dale, England

As a young man, I watched with awe as Concorde was tested around the skies of Oxfordshire before entering regular service. I have never seen a more graceful aircraft, and I would love to fly on it. Despite the unfortunate disaster, it has never lost its status and will grace the skies once again.
Rob, England

The Concorde did not crash due to an aircraft fault, but rather debris. Precautions have now been taken to further minimize those risks. Why not let her fly again? As for the noise and pollution. Start work on developing quieter, more efficient engines. Sure the cost will be great, but the benefits should be greater when looking in the long term.
Charles, USA

If I drove my car down the motorway and my tyre got punctured by a chunk of metal which had fallen from another vehicle and I lost my life as a result, would they ban all types of my car from the roads? The whole Concorde business has been typically blown up out of all proportion. Yes, of course it will all be OK again. The "nanny politicians" went completely overboard as usual.
Keith Simpson, UK

Firstly, can I remind everyone that Concorde was a joint Anglo-French venture. Yes, Concorde will regain its status as long as it doesn't crash again. It is arguably the most beautiful plane ever made and is legendary but is really a bit like a Rolls Royce car, no one really needs it, except of course British Airways. If it can still fly technically and is economically viable then why not let it continue?
Antonio d'Agostino, UK

Why is it that when a Concorde finally crashes there is a debate whether it should ever fly again? If this attitude were standard across the board, the Boeing 747 would have been mothballed in the 70's.
Greg, Florida, USA

I do not believe the Paris crash will affect potential passengers on the Concorde. It remains a stunning technological achievement and, for those who have seen it in action, a beautiful and impressive sight. The sooner it flies again the better.
Colin Suter, United Kingdom

Nothing can compare to a flight across the Atlantic on Concorde, so YES it will fly again and YES it will be full. I had the pleasure of taking a flight from New York back in 97, 3 hours 13 minutes and I was grinning with joy for the whole duration. In this age of the English been beaten at tennis, rugby, cricket etcp., Concorde remains a true English triumph - I for one will be saving towards my next trip as soon as she is re-launched.
Andrew Dunning, UK


The crash of the elite gets elite coverage

Brian, UK
High profile cuts both ways. Crashes of ordinary planes get ordinary coverage, the crash of the elite gets elite coverage. It doesn't help that despite there being more crashes of other models, the ratio of the number of successful flights to number of crashes is actually not at all favourable to Concorde.
Brian, UK

The Challenger Shuttle disaster hasn't stopped people going into space (never mind that it's not available to civilians). I for one will be deeply disappointed if I never see Concorde fly again; the noise, the poise this plane has is truly the most majestic of all man's creations.
John, UK

If the average Briton could afford a flight on the Concorde, then we would all have reason to be proud. This way it is actually a shame that there are so few who can afford the flight, whereas the vast majority can't even get decent railway transportation.
Kevin Starr, UK

It's been nice and quiet here in Reading without that monstrosity roaring over us twice a day. Why doesn't Concorde have to meet modern noise standards to get an airworthiness certificate?
Keith Penton, UK

Those protesting at the environmental concerns will no doubt be holidaying in their own back gardens this year or cycling down to Greece. Long live Concorde!
Dobbo, UK

Concorde has always been considered as a creation of genuine British effort. It is an awe-inspiring sight, and indeed would be a terrible shame if its wings were clipped. Its history is not perfect, but then, what other plane has an unmarked record. Boeing 737, 747 and 757 have been involved in many accidents (mid-air collisions, engine failures, hydraulic failures), yet these planes will still be used well into the future. Concorde was an aircraft made beyond its time, and it's beauty will always been admired by those who understand the excellent work that went into it.
James Ryan, Notts, UK

I think it's a pity that this noisy, polluting, fuel-inefficient 'rich boy's toy' should ever have been allowed to fly again. Yes, it is indeed a beautiful shape, but those who stare skywards in awe should look at the pollution trailing behind its fuel-inefficient engines. Perhaps those who support this relic don't live under the flight path.
Dr Tony Shuttleworth, UK


Anyone who thinks Concorde is past its sell-by date is frankly rather ignorant about aircraft

Paul, England
When 583 passengers were killed in a collision between two Boeing 747 aircraft in 1977 it didn't stop people flying them. I don't see any reason why Concorde will be any different. People should remember there are aircraft older, much more heavily used and less well engineered and maintained flying around the planet. The extent to which Concorde aircraft have been used is equivalent to an average five-year-old short-haul airliner. Anyone who thinks Concorde is past its sell-by date is frankly rather ignorant about aircraft.
Paul , England

Two aviation dream trips are transatlantic on the Concorde and a joyflight over Antarctica. If I ever came into money I would do both, despite serious crashes on both.
Sue C, Australia

Everyone seems to quickly forget that nearly every other passenger aircraft has crashed killing many more than Concorde's unfortunate crash last year. There was no mass grounding of any Boeing planes or Airbus! I have been lucky enough to fly on Concorde and it was a magical experience that many more will now hopefully experience.
Simon, UK

I think Concorde should fly again - after tests of course. I miss seeing it in the sky.
Janet Wynne, England


There is not another civil aircraft flying that is as well built, tested and maintained

John Brooks, UK
I think it is completely despicable that Concorde was allowed to lose some of its status in the first place. Other aircraft, eg the 737, have had far greater shadows cast over them... yet because grounding the world's fleet of 737's would not be a commercial option, some of these 30+ year old "coffins" continue to fly. Concorde is still in its prime. The BA fleet is one of the best maintained aircraft in the skies and in terms of flying hours has another 20 years of life left in her. There is not another civil aircraft flying that is as well built, tested and maintained. I say put it back in the air now. It's not a question of what it costs to fly or if that is right - it is a part of our heritage of engineering excellence and world-beating design... which sadly we seem to have given away.
John Brooks, UK

It's old, noisy, inefficient and polluting, and it's one of the most beautiful of man's creations. I stood at Clapham Junction last summer as Concorde came in to land. Gliding towards Heathrow with its mighty Rolls Royce Olympus jets roaring overhead hundreds of people on that crowded platform gazed upwards as it was turned gold by the setting sun. An awesome experience! It's a masterpiece of civilisation. It will surely fly again.
Clive, England


The aircraft should never have been grounded

Rick, Alaska, USA
Why is this debate still going on? Concorde is safe, not only safe but probably the safest and most advanced civil aircraft of all time! (Ok, the avionics might not be digital LCD displays but they more than do the job !) Come on, you Brits, you have something to be proud of here... That incident in Paris last year had nothing to do with Concorde's safety. The aircraft should never have been grounded.
Rick, Alaska, USA

Some people will always be willing to pay whatever it takes to travel quickly. If they didn't, we'd all still go by ship or Zeppelin. Most 'first world' holiday makers will be flying long-haul at several times the speed of Concorde within 30 years anyway. And let's face it, it's a stunning piece of paper-dart art...
Paul Robins, UK


I was fortunate enough to witness the Concorde flying above my house yesterday

Mujnoo, UK
I was fortunate enough to witness the Concorde flying above my house yesterday. It was an awesome sight. We need Concorde for our economy, as the business leaders can be in NY in less than 4 hrs and be back in London on the same day. Let's get it in the sky asap....
Mujnoo, UK

Let's see: the Brits have the Concorde, a contraption capable of delivering a hundred or so caviar-eating passengers to their destinations at the speed of sound at a cost of more than $6,000 - an aircraft which caters to those most likely to own Rolls Royces, Bentleys, and Range Rovers. Thank God we have the Brits to balance the evils of greedy, energy-wasting, environment-killing Americans like myself.
Evan S., USA

Elegant, superior, futuristic, expensive, the list goes on. So will Concorde...
Michael Elgstrand, USA

Concorde is no mere aircraft. It is an icon representing the dreams of my generation. I hope for years to come people look up and see what is possible.
Andrew Ballingall, UK


Concorde should be junked

Tim, UK
Shame they didn't change the engines for quieter, cleaner and more efficient ones whilst they were at it. Concorde belongs to a time when it was performance at any cost - it should be junked. It is exempt from normal noise regulations and it's time the CAA applied present noise regulations to it.
Tim, UK

Concorde has never lost its place as the best plane in the sky. Just to see it fly past is a thrill. To fly in her would be wonderful. Come on, she has had only one crash in 30 years. Long live Concorde.
Susan Gowland, U.K.

I watched with others at the end of the runway at Heathrow this afternoon as this magnificent plane re-took to the skies. I felt proud as she soared overhead. What happened before was a fluke accident and not like other air crashes. After all this investment and testing I'm sure the same thing would never happen again. I know I'd take my chances to be first back on her and whilst there's people sharing my view there should be Concordes flying.
Daryl Butterworth, UK


I would much prefer to cross the Atlantic in a helium-filled airship

I. Turzanski, Netherlands
Of course Concorde will get its reputation back but I for one would much prefer to cross the Atlantic in a helium-filled airship. That would be far more of an adventure than being hurled across the water in three hours and not seeing a damn thing for all the money you paid.
I. Turzanski, Netherlands

It is magnificent to watch, and nearly everybody turns to gaze at it as it flies overhead, but this does not alter the fact that so many millions are being pumped into a service that is so expensive that it can be used by an elite few. And despite fares being so high, they do not cover Concorde's operating costs. Passengers travelling on BA's standard aircraft have been subsidising Concorde passengers for years - if they were not, the tickets would cost 10,000 or more.
David, UK

What people are failing to realise that even if you perceive the 'jet-set' to be outdated and old, another fact remains - that especially for BA Concorde provides huge profits for them from people that are willing to pay for it. This allows people who don't wish to take Concorde to have cheaper, more competitive, economy seats because BA has more money. That is something that many people who don't like Concorde for some bizarre reason are failing to see.
Jamie Nelson-Singer, UK


Concorde should now be THE safest plane to fly on given all the attention in the last year

Christopher Laird, Japan
Why not? The DC10 suffered repeated (and fatal) issues with rear cargo door failures many years ago. It is still flying today but is re-branded MD-11. The improvements were made (both to new and existing aircraft) and the result is a safer aircraft. Concorde should now be THE safest plane to fly on given all the attention in the last year. Shame that the attention hasn't been the most ecological though!
Christopher Laird, Japan

Who cares? Most people can't afford the price of the ticket anyway. Like other rich people's toys, it is of little consequence to most of us.
Sarah Dulles, UK

I would like someone to explain to me what sort of need motivates anybody to pay all that money to be in New York in 3.5 hours rather than pay twenty times less and get there in 7? What is the point, apart from boosting one's ego?
Deborah, UK

I first saw this wonderful plane fly in the early 70's at the age of 10 and have always wanted to fly in it. I still hope this wish will come true. The aircraft is truly awesome and I can't think of another with a better safety record.
John, UK

The fact that the crash was on video and each and every second of its fatal fall was broadcast into every living room in the western world, might have left a lasting impression. Concorde may be 30 year old technology and already beyond its design life expectation, but there is nothing else in this world which allows an ordinary (non-military) person to experience life at Mach 2 Concorde for ever
Mart, Canada

Concorde may be safe, but will the Americans let it fly over their cities ?
Anton Augille, France


Let us be proud of our heritage and wish Concorde every success for the future

Jeremy Young, Bristol, UK
Living in Concorde's hometown I have longed for the day of seeing this most elegant plane grace the skies once more. Concorde has brought pride to this city and the country for 30+ years. Never again will a British government be prepared to fund a project of this risk or size. This disaster did not occur because of any intrinsic faults with the aircraft but a poor maintenance routine and the most unfortunate set of circumstances. Let us be proud of our heritage and wish Concorde every success for the future.
Jeremy Young, Bristol, UK

Whoever is daft enough to blow 6,000 on a flight ticket is daft enough to be taken in by what is essentially a PR whitewash job. The Concorde had several close shaves and it was sheer luck that there weren't more crashes.
Dan Willets, UK

Concorde is a high-profile aircraft and 90% of the concerns have been generated by the media. It won't be long before the Paris incident has faded from most people's memories and I'll be enjoying the sight and sound of this magnificent aircraft on its approach to Heathrow.
Paul Osborne, England

I live and work right under the flight path for Concorde and when it flew over my office, there was a crowd of people over by the window to witness the beauty and the power of this awesome aircraft.
Matt, England

Did it ever really lose its status as the most stunning plane ever to grace our skies? What other plane makes people stop and stare in the same way as Concorde? Even at standstill it is a work of beauty - a classic piece of design. Now they have instigated the safety upgrades I'm sure it will soon be attracting its regular passengers back. Having flown on Concorde shortly before the tragic accident, I would certainly have no qualms about travelling on it again.
Nick, UK


An event such as the Concorde crash captures a disproportionate amount of attention

Doug, The Netherlands
Of course people will remember that one Concorde crashed. I imagine that when stepping on their holiday flight, it suits them to forget that substantially more civil aircraft of other types have been involved in disasters. An event such as the Concorde crash captures a disproportionate amount of attention, just as a particular car crash involving a Mercedes in Paris. Other cars crash too - but people are shocked when they hear that something perceived as technologically superior has appeared to fail even although, in both of these cases, the blame lay elsewhere.
Doug, The Netherlands

Can it regain its status? 3.5 hours London to JFK is not status, it's fact. It's thirty years old but there's still no better or safer way to cross the Atlantic. Supersonic transport is still the future even if Boeing claims otherwise. With the new evidence coming out about the medical problems arising from long, cramped flights, Concorde seems more sensible than ever. Also, why does no one ever complain about the pollution from military supersonic aircraft? There must be hundreds of thousands in the world? I'm saving up now.
Dave Lightbody, UK

I used to enjoy watching Concorde go over Bracknell at 11 o'clock each morning - I thought that living under the flightpath was a positive benefit! But that was because there are so few of them; a Concorde every 15 minutes would be thoroughly annoying.
Chris, UK


The sooner it gets back into the skies the better

PH, UK
The tragic events of last year's horrific crash highlighted an interesting fact. People were not only mourning the loss of human life, but the loss of the aircraft as well. Perhaps this gives an indication of just how highly we ( and the French ) regard this fabulous aircraft. The sooner it gets back into the skies the better.
PH, UK

The Concorde is a dinosaur and belongs in a museum, along with the outdated jet-set mindset.
James Morrell, UK

Absolutely: many of those now flying in First Class across the Atlantic have only one question - when will Concorde be flying again? In terms of safety, actual accidents per departure are however more than for the 747, contrary to what Robin has written, since there have been so few Concorde departures in comparison to 747 departures.
Alex Dawe, UK

I would expect that Concorde's role will now change gradually away from business travel, and more towards leisure. That said, I can't comprehend why anyone who isn't under severe time pressure would ever want to fly Concorde. Compared to more modern aircraft it's noisy and cramped, and the ride at subsonic speeds is hardly smooth.
John, UK


I think this is a waste of money and time

Jose Fernandez, Netherlands
I am sure it can regain its status as rich people's transport and extremely polluting plane quite easily. I think this is a waste of money and time and hope Concorde will never fly commercially again.
Jose Fernandez, Netherlands

In or out of the sky, I think it is the most elegant man-made device ever to fly. I have no doubt that it will regain its status within months of regular flights beginning again. If BA ever want a volunteer passenger, then I would certainly be prepared to be one.
William Berry, Wales

Sure, many airplanes have crashed over the years - although there is precedent for both results (remember the Comet). I would fly on the Concorde, once a problem is identified it is reasonable to expect that it is solved. Of course the ticket price is still a bit high.
George Milton, USA and Italy


I flew to New York on Concorde back in 1996

Paul, England
Can Concorde retain its status and prestige? Yes, absolutely. The aircraft itself is not inherently unsafe; last year's crash was a tragic chain of events triggered by a piece of debris on a runway. The aviation authorities have insisted on measures to prevent the unlikely occurring again, and I think most of Concorde's regular passengers will use it as they did previously - to save time. I flew to New York on Concorde back in 1996. It was a wonderful experience and I'd fly again on it tomorrow if the opportunity arose.
Paul, England

Why was this question not an issue when TWA Flight 800 went down? Or after any of the other fatal crashes involving Boeing made aircraft? This so-called "controversy" is just media hype and it only serves as further testament to the special status that Concorde rightly enjoys as a part of your history. Besides why should we worry, most of us will never have the means to travel this way?
Gary Jackson, Wyoming, USA

I think similar issues faced the loss of the Titanic: a national flagship which resulted in a tragic loss of life and destruction. And yet today we find new liners being produced all the time and most people feel perfectly safe travelling on them. With respect, I don't think the Concorde disaster should be treated any differently to that of any other disaster.
James, France

Given the favourable stats - one crash in over 30 years - I'd have no problem using Concorde. But then perhaps Concorde's higher profile meant that even one accident could destroy public confidence for good. I hope I'm wrong...
Andy Millward, UK


Tragic accidents do happen and as human beings we need to remind ourselves that we are not infallible

Michael Thomas, UK
Yes, I think it will regain its status. The accident was not down to a flaw in the plane itself but a terrible sequence of consequences that could never be planned for. Concorde is still the only plane of its type and probably will be for decades to come. It has flown for 25 years undergoing the incredible stresses of supersonic flight and it has performed the job very well and it is still capable thanks to the excellent design and engineering abilities of its manufacturers. Tragic accidents do happen and as human beings we need to remind ourselves that we are not infallible. However that should not deter us from progress.
Michael Thomas, UK

Yes. This is the greatest and most glamorous aircraft in the world. Airbus should immediately start planning on a new supersonic passenger aircraft to replace Concorde before it gets too ancient.
John Atkins, England

Concorde is distressingly noisy. Surely the millions of people on its flight path deafened for 3 minutes every day have some weight against the privileged few who save a few hours? Concorde is an embarrassing relic and should not be resurrected.
Reading Resident, UK

Was Concorde ever that unsafe? Concorde has had 1 accident. The 747 has had a few disasters and larger numbers are killed yet no-one ever says stop 747s from flying.
Robin, England


There will be plenty of business travellers willing to pay the cost of faster transatlantic travel

Neil, UK
Yes, of course it can! There will be plenty of business travellers willing to pay the cost of faster transatlantic travel and plenty of aviation enthusiasts to bang the drum for British and French engineering. This doesn't mean that we should forget those who died but if one tragedy stopped everyone then GNER would have gone out of business last year.
Neil, UK

This was the first fatal accident involving a Concorde, the planes have flown millions of miles in the time that they have been in service. You have a better chance of winning a double rollover lottery than you have dying on a Concorde. The work done has made an already safe aircraft even safer.
Ian Thomas, England

I would love to fly on Concorde.
Pat, UK

I am afraid that despite an enviable safety record it will take a very long time for those video images of that burning, stricken plane to fade from the public memory.
Janet Gladstone, UK

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