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1973: Concorde slashes Atlantic flight time

VIDEO : Concorde crosses Atlantic in fastest ever flight time

Concorde has made its first non-stop crossing of the Atlantic in record-breaking time.

The French model of the supersonic airliner flew from the US capital, Washington, to Orly airport in Paris in three hours 32 minutes.

The pilots, Jean Franchi and Gilbert Defer, cut the previous record for a transatlantic airliner journey in half, flying the plane at an average speed of 954 mph (1,535 kph).

Officials for Aerospatiale - the French company involved in the project - said the plane touched down at 1617 local time (1517 GMT), 13 minutes ahead of schedule.

This second pre-production model of the aircraft being co-built with the British Aircraft Corporation was also carrying a small number of passengers.

Great success

Concorde has been on a lengthy tour of North and South America to promote it to reluctant airlines that have so far said they have no need for a plane that can travel at twice the speed of sound.

The trip was also designed to convince aviation authorities in the two continents to fit the supersonic jets into subsonic traffic patterns when the companies begin commercial flights in 1975.

BAC vice-chairman Geoffrey Knight said the tour had been a great success and prospects for the future were good.

In Context
Concorde began commercial flights in January 1976 with London-Bahrain and Paris-Rio services.

Regular flights to the US did not start for another three years as American aviation authorities were not willing to allow the plane to land at their airports.

Concorde had an almost unblemished safety record until 25 July 2000, when an Air France model built in 1975 crashed shortly after taking off from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.

All 109 people on board were killed and there were also four fatalities on the ground.

All Concordes were grounded while a full investigation took place and flights did not resume until November 2001.

In April 2003 British Airways and Air France announced the plane would be retired due to falling passenger revenue and rising maintenance costs.

Concorde's final commercial flight was on 23 October 2003.


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