Re: Concorde's other customers (There were none in the end!)

Date:         15 Nov 97 16:24:44 
From:         David Ecale <>
Organization: Cray Research a division of Silicon Graphics, Inc.
References:   1
Followups:    1 2
Next article
View raw article
  or MIME structure

Jay Vassos-Libove wrote:
> A recent post here about orders placed for Boeing's '2707' SST
> (prior to the program's cancellation) got a reply which indicated
> a laundry list of airlines, US and foreign, which had also placed
> orders for the Concorde.
> This raised the question in my mind:  Why did no airlines other than
> BA and AF ever actually get any Concordes, since there were a dozen
> or more orders for it from other airlines?

	I suspect that it's not so much "Why didn't other airlines
purchase the Concorde?", as it was "Why did BOAC & AF purchase the
Concorde after everybody else dropped out?"

	Please remember the tenor of the times.  The US, Europeans, and
Russians were all racing to build a working SST by the end of the
(1960s) decade.  Remember JFK's famous speach, (to paraphrase) "I
pledge to put a man on the moon & build an SST before the end of the
decade. ..."  It was a great idea, until the commercial side was

	All 3 groups started working apace.  The Boeing project was
cancelled when Boeing figured out that it would *never* recoup the
development costs.  This wasn't all bad.  Boeing went on to design
and sell B747s instead.  It takes 'em linger to get there, but it's
a lot cheeper per seat.  The B747 is one of commercial aviation's
greatest commercial success stories.

	The Russians went on to design (well some of the specs
*were* smuggled out of France in toothpaste tubes) the Tu144.  This
was a contender until the spectacular crash at the 1968 Paris Air
Show.  After that, only Aeroflot purchased *that* bird.  The Concorde
also lost it's customer base & the only airlines to purchase it were
(the percursor to) BA & AF.  Both owned by the governments which
spent so much money creating it.  The purchases were effectively a
political solution to a commercial disaster.  (Besides, remember the
Concorde joke:  "It takes 3 hours to cross the Atlantic from London
to New York on the Concorde and 4 hours to get to Manhatten Island
from JFK Airport in a New York taxi cab!")

	So, in retrospect, the Concorde & Tu144 were terrible
financial disasters to those who produced them.  The only customers
who bellied up to the bar in the end to purchase them were captive
carriers of the respective governments who produced them.  The next try
by the Europeans was the A300 Airbus.  This followed the lead of the
B747 & created a (medium haul) cattle car.  It was a (still subsidised,
but who isn't these days,) commercial success.

David Ecale
"The difference between a wolf pup and a German Shepard pup is that a
wolf pup is quite happy teething on the leg of a stag that it's parents
brought down in a hunt while the German Shepard pup prefers to teeth
on remote controls and high end graphing calculators...."