Pie in the Sky? Concorde Enthusiasts Trying to Bring Supersonic Plane Back

·Associate Travel Editor
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Many aviation lovers pine to see the Concorde return to the skies, and some will pay great money for it. (AP PHOTO/POOL/Remy de la Mauviniere)

It may turn out to be as realistic as bringing back the Delorean sports car, but you can’t blame them for trying: a group of Concorde enthusiasts say they’ve secured enough financing to buy two of the needle-nosed supersonic planes and put one in the sky by the end of the decade. It’s been 12 years since the last Concorde took to the skies.

The group, Club Concorde, says it has access to a combined $248 million dollars to buy two of the jets currently stationed in France, according to a report by the Telegraph. By 2017, one would be converted to an earthbound tourist attraction/restaurant in London that serves the same kind of high-end cuisine the Concorde was famous for and the other would be used for everything from charter flights to air shows by 2019. Neither jet would be used for commercial flight.

According to the report, the group would buy a Concorde stationed near Orly airport in Paris as the tourist attraction, and another one being displayed at Le Bourget airport in Paris. Not that we have any evidence of either plane, or any other Concordes, being for sale – in fact the latter airport is adamantly denying it will happen. Club Concorde says it would provide all the money to restore, maintain, and house the jets.

But are they all funded up with nowhere to go? They very well might be.

“As an [aviation] geek, I am super excited at the potential of a Concorde flying again,” said aviation expert Jason Rabinowitz, of Routehappy. “In reality, the likelihood of that ever happening is infinitesimally slim.

“The Concorde has been out of service for over a decade, and many are either preserved, at a museum, or long since withdrawn from use. These aircraft were not stored in a manner that expected a resumption of service, so the work needed to restore them to flying condition would be massive. And, being the Concorde, incredibly expensive. It’s a great idea to dream about, but will probably remain just that – a dream.”

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It’s not just about money, either. The enthusiasts will need to find a willing seller for both planes, and that’s no guarantee. British Airways is highly unlikely to sell and has gone on record saying no Concorde will ever fly again.

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France’s Air and Space museum says it’s absolutely not giving up its Concordes. (Photo: Musee de l'Air et de l'Espace)

Of selling its Concordes as the group hopes, the Musee de l'Air et de l'Espace essentially said “fat chance” in French, and translated to English the statement says, “If it happens that uninformed visitors ask the museum for tickets to Mars or Pluto, the idea to fly again one of the Concordes from the Museum of Air and Space is equally fanciful.”

The planes’ manufacturer, Airbus, would need to lend its technical support, and according to a CNN report, it has not heard from the group. A source told the website, “Concorde is an immensely complex supersonic aircraft and the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK will not entrust the safe upkeep of its airframe and systems to a group of enthusiasts, regardless of their passion, without this technical support in place.”

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The last Concorde to fly was on Oct. 24, 2003, traveling at twice the speed of sound from New York’s JFK to London Heathrow. It was three years after another Concorde crashed, killing 113 people. This isn’t why the luxury jet was retired, however; high fuel and operating costs were.

The more likely chance we’ll see a supersonic commercial jet again will be from new projects, such as the AS2 being developed by Airbus or N+2, part of a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and NASA.