Club Concorde, a group of ex-pilots, maintainers, engineers, airline execs and Concorde enthusiasts has unveiled a plan that aims to put a Concorde back in the air by 2019, and supposedly they have a pile of cash to see their plans through to fruition.
It has been more than a decade since Concorde took its last flight, ending its career on October 24th, 2003. Examples are now strewn across the globe in the aviation museums and science centers where they were sent with no intention of ever flying again. As such, it is not as if you can just go out and buy a surplus Concorde....
Or can you?
Club Concorde plans on doing just that, with an example stored at Le Bourget airport in Paris at the top of their shopping list. They want to acquire and restore the aircraft, potentially for a sum around $180 million dollars, and return it to flight, with a target date of 2019 for the iconic jet to rise again. Once flying, Club Concorde wants to use the aircraft for flypasts, air shows, corporate event and even private charters.
Yes, we have heard of attempts to get the Concorde back in the sky before. Even Sir Richard Branson wanted to continue operating the Concordes once Air France and British Airways had announced their retirement. What makes this time different is the fact that many years have past since the jet’s controversial retirement, and that Club Concorde apparently has an investor with very, very deep pockets.
As all things in flight, no bucks, no Buck Rogers.
So with literally hundreds of millions of dollars to play with, Club Concorde sees the reintroduction of Concorde to the skies as within their reach. They also want to procure another Concorde, one currently housed at Orly Airport in Paris, and have it moved to a special built platform along the River Thames, next to the London Eye ferris wheel. There it would stand as a sixty million dollar tourist attraction, replete with a high-end restaurant where you can eat the same lavish meals dispensed on the Concorde as part of a standard $8,000 airfare.
If the group can accomplish those two goals, they look to getting a second Concorde back into service.
Big hurdles do exist, and the technical ones although monumental, are not the most outstanding. Air France and British Airways were adamant about having Concorde’s legend sunset with their brands on the tail. So much so that they demanded that no other operator fly the jets.
It is not clear how the Club Concorde plans on overcoming this political hurdle. Maybe some sort of deal can be worked out, and maybe the decade plus that have past since Concorde’s retirement has eased those in power’s demand for strict control over the jet’s demise.
Beyond their supposed access to a mountain of cash and their members technical know-how, Club Concorde may have another thing going for it. This year marks the end of another British aerospace icon’s time in the skies, that of the lovingly restored and brilliantly-operated Vulcan Bomber known by its serial number as XH588. The big delta-winged jet has wowed international crowds like no other flying act, especially this season. It has also been the centerpiece of many flypasts in the UK, with the Royal Air Force Red Arrows often in tow off its wings.
Now with this aircraft being grounded forever, the entirely privately-funded aircraft project with an fanatical following, one that beat all the odds when it came to getting such a complex and exotic machine off the ground, leaves a huge hole in the skies over the UK. Additionally, XH588 leaves behind a precedent that doing something like getting Concorde back in the air is indeed possible.
Now we will have to see if Club Concorde can put their money where Concorde’s air intakes are and get their hands on a specimen to make their plans come true. The odds may still be stacked against them, but if they can do what has been impossible for so many to accomplish, it would be a massive win for anyone on this planet who loves aviation and dreams of flight.
Contact the author Tyler@jalopnik.com
Photo credits: AP aside from Red Arrows formation photo which is via the Ministry of Defense/Crown Copyright.