Re: Concorde Life (was Boeing cancels 747-500X/600X?)

Date:         23 Apr 97 02:58:12 
From:         malc@mci2000.com (Malcolm Weir)
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On 16 Apr 97 01:55:57 , alexander.mclellan@eurocontrol.be (McLELLAN
Alexander, DED/1) wrote:

>>Not expand, but retire.
>
>>In 2005, the "entire" fleet will all be well over 30 years old, and will
>>all have significantly exceeded the original design life (which is where
>>some of the aircraft stand right now, hence the current "relife" program
>>by BAe at Bristol).  Parts are a problem even now (I think two items,
>>one BA, one AF, are effectively grounded for cannibalization).
>
>>That said, BA/BAe may find ways to extend the fleet's life still further
>>so that in 2005 they are still flying; but the original article was
>>talking about current expectations (three years ago it was generally
>>considered unlikely that Concorde would fly past 2000).
>
>Flight magazine, in Feb 1996, had a short article about Concorde. Based on
>that article,  I don't think any of the aircraft have reached their original
>design life yet. Flight quotes the figure of 6700 reference flights as the
>current airframe life, with BA's lead aircraft at 5900 flights, and Air
>France not expecting its lead aircraft to reach 6700 till 2005.

A "reference flight" for a Concorde is defined as a supersonic
transatlantic flight with a take-off weight in excess of a certain
number.  This basically means that BA is conducting at least 4
reference flights per day, every day (although that drops to 2 during
August).  Assuming that they use the entire fleet (which I've heard
isn't necessarily so; at least one is usually inop due to parts
cannibalization), that means that each airframe accumulates just over
200 reference flights per year.  So BA's lead aircraft will hit the
witching number in October 1999...

>Where does 6700 come from? Flight says: "The original design life was 24000
>flights." I believe the figure of 6700 is based on dividing the number of
>test cycles on the fatigue rig (20000)  by a 'safety factor' of 3, and is
>not related directly to the design life.
>
>In the article, Air France were quoted as saying they will keep Concorde in
>service for another 20 years. The article comments that the CAA and DGAC had
>approved, in principle, an increase in the life of Concordes to 8500
>reference flights, which will be sufficient to keep BAs youngest Concorde in
>service till around 2014.

This extension was the result of extraordinary examination of BA's
"lead dog"  (which I dimly recall as being G-BOAB, but the cobwebs are
thick up there), by BAe Bristol, which concluded that the hull
appreciated the hot and dry conditions it experiences at 55,000 feet
and mach 2.

>I'll probably retire before it does!

Unfortunately, parts are getting tougher and tougher to find.  The
thing DOES have a 1960's "fly by wire" system...

>Alex (NOT speaking for Eurocontrol)

Malc.