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Last Updated: Friday, 18 July, 2003, 17:33 GMT 18:33 UK
Concorde pilot backs Branson
Concorde
Concorde will be retiring in autumn
A senior Concorde pilot has called for Sir Richard Branson to be given the chance to operate the supersonic aircraft.

John Cochrane, deputy chief test pilot for Concorde, made the comments during a BBCi Wiltshire webcast at RAF Fairford's Royal International Air Tattoo.

He said: "In my view, Sir Richard should be given the opportunity to operate Concorde on the basis that it is an icon that cannot be regarded as the sole property of British Airways.

"They paid a very small price for the actual aircraft. It was a national project supported by the government.

So much was achieved by an Anglo-French project and to throw that away before it is necessary is getting close to obscene in my mind
John Cochrane

"So long as Sir Richard is not going to ask for government help, he would have my vote and I think he would make a good job of it.

"Concorde should be kept flying. It is highly premature to start retiring it from service," he added.

British Airways and Air France announced in April that their fleet of Concordes would be grounded by autumn.

The Virgin boss has since proposed taking some of the fleet on operationally, and also creating a heritage trust to keep at least one of the planes flying.

"When we started testing Concorde, we saw it as the start of the future of flight - not the end, said Mr Cochrane.

Sir Richard Branson
Sir Richard wants to keep Concorde flying

"Concorde was a first stab at a supersonic transport aircraft and it succeeded. Its achievement is second only to the Apollo programme in America.

"So much was achieved and to throw that away before it is necessary is getting close to obscene in my mind.

"The success of Concorde depends on the flair and enthusiasm of people involved.

"Sir Richard has that flair and he could make a very good job of it," he added.

BA has said Concorde is not for sale, but that it is considering keeping some of its planes flying at air shows.

A total of 12 sites are being considered as possible homes for the other jets, including Filton in Bristol, where the UK fleet was built.




SEE ALSO:
Virgin boss wants Concorde plan
23 Jun 03  |  Bristol/Somerset
BA talks up Concorde plan
24 Jun 03  |  Bristol/Somerset


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