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Concorde is the world’s only supersonic passenger aircraft. This
aircraft flies at more than two times the speed of sound. In 1962, the
British and French governments signed an agreement to develop a
supersonic transport aircraft (SST) and the plane was built jointly by
British Aerospace (Bae) and Aerspatiale. The first flight took place in
1969 and began passenger service in 1976.The Concorde holds many
records, including fastest crossing of the Atlantic from New York to
London in 2 hours 54 minutes and45 seconds as opposed to about 8
hours for a subsonic flight. A total of 20 Concordes were made, of
which 13 are still in service. British Airways and Air France fly the
planes. Each Concorde is young in "aeroplane years" having
completed about the same number of take-offs and landings as a 3-4
year old 737 and the same number of hours as a 4-5 year old 747.
This paper includes the special features of the Concorde from the
ordinary airplane, which enables supersonic flight.

Supersonic airline research in Europe began in 1956 and resulted

in the British and French Governments signing an international treaty
for the joint design, development and manufacture of a supersonic
airliner in 1962.The first prototype was rolled out at Toulouse in 1967.
First flight of Concorde 001 was from Toulouse France on 9th March
1969.Concorde's first supersonic flight was on 1st October 1969.The
Russians built an SST similar in design to the Concorde, called the
Tupolev Tu -144, nicknamed the "Konkordski."

The Concorde vs. Other Passenger Jets

The Concorde flies faster and higher than most commercial jets.
For example, a Boeing 747 aircraft cruises at about 560 mph (901 kph,
or Mach 0.84) at an altitude of 35,000 ft (10,675 m). In contrast, the
Concorde cruises at 1,350 mph (2,172 kph, or Mach 2) at an altitude
of 60,000 ft (18,300 m). Because the Concorde travels faster than the
speed of sound and almost twice as high as other commercial jets, it
has several features that set it apart from other aircraft:

• Streamlined design
 Needle-like fuselage
 Swept-back delta wing
 Moveable nose
 Vertical tail design
• Engine design
 Engines built into the wing
 Afterburners
• Main and auxiliary fuel tanks
• High-reflectivity paint

Streamlined Design

As any aircraft approaches the speed of sound (1100 ft/s, 343 m/s),
the air pressure builds up in front of the aircraft, forming a "wall" of
air. To punch through that wall of air, planes must be streamlined. To
streamline the Concorde, the following designs have been implented:

• Needle-like fuselage
• Swept-back delta wing
• Moveable nose
• Vertical tail design


The fuselage (body) of the Concorde is only 9.5 ft (2.7 m) wide

(for comparison, a 747 is 20 ft (6.1 m) wide). The length of the
Concorde is about 202 ft (61.7 m), just slightly shorter than a 747. The
designers of Concorde had to elongate the aircraft's silhouette,
assuring it maximum atmospheric penetration, even with a full load of
186 tons. The long, narrow shape of the Concorde reduces the drag on
the plane as it moves through the air.

Delta wing

A delta shape is the most appropriate for supersonic flight,

which requires a combination of sufficient length and sweep,
minimum relative thickness, and a low aspect ratio. This design
meets these requirements as well as those of subsonic flight, takeoff
and landing, while offering sufficient structural rigidity and an
extremely solid system of aerodynamic lift. Its stability is such that
Concorde is the only commercial aircraft that requires no stabilizing

The Concorde's wings are thin and swept back at an angle. Thin wings
reduce drag and help delay the formation of shock waves. But wings
can be made only so thin. The angling back of the wings, which
further reduces drag, makes them act as if they are thinner in the air
The big ogival wing is unique as is the fact that Concorde has no
ailerons, speed brakes, spoilers or leading edge flaps/slats. Concorde
has six elevons, grouped in three pairs, for pitch and roll. Concorde
also has no trailing edge flaps, but the elevons droop on takeoff and
for landing to create increased wing camber. The six elevons are
hydraulically powered and electrically controlled.

A Concorde in flight
(Wide, triangular wing structure and lack of
horizontal tail)

A Boeing 747 in flight

(Thin, rectangular wing structure and horizontal
stabilizer on the tail)
The Concorde has a longer, needle-shaped nose compared to most
commercial jets. The nose helps penetrate the air, and can be tilted down
upon takeoff and landing (13 degrees) so that the pilots can see the
runway. (Delta-winged aircraft have a steeper angle of attack during
takeoff and landing than other types of aircraft.) Also, the Concorde's
nose has a visor to protect the windshield when flying at supersonic
speeds and which maintains the aerodynamic profile of the aircraft in

Position of Nose at different stages of flight

Takeoff and subsonic cruising

(Nose at 5° - Visor down)

Supersonic flight
(Nose up - Visor up)

Subsonic cruising
(Nose up - Visor down)
Approach, landing and taxiing
(Nose Down - Visor down)


The engines on the Concorde provide the thrust necessary for

takeoff, cruising and landing. The Concorde has four Rolls
Royce/Snecma Olympus 593 turbo jet engines. Each engine generates
18.7 tons (180 kN) of thrust. Together, the four engines burn 6,771
gallons (25,629 liters) of fuel per hour.

The location and type of engines on the Concorde's are different from
on other
Concorde in flight
(The engines are attached directly underneath the
wing without struts)

Airbus 320 in-flight

(The engines are attached underneath the wing with

The Concorde's engines are attached directly to the underside of

the wing without engine struts. This design reduces air turbulence and
makes for a more stable engine. At supersonic speeds, engine struts
would be overstressed and likely to break.


The main components of a turbo jet engine are
1. Inlet diffuser 2.Compressor 3.Combustion chamber
4. Turbine 5.Tail pipe

The compressor through an inlet diffuser sucks ambient air and

the pressure of air is raised by the compressor besides a small rise
through the diffuser. After adiabatic compression the high pressure air
supports combustion in the combustion chamber which occur at
constant pressure in the ideal cycle. The air is supplied in three
streams- (a) primary air, which is about 15% of the total, initiates the
combustion of atomized fuel entering the combustion chamber. About
30% of air (secondary air) is introduced to complete the combustion;
the remaining quantity of air (about 55%)known a tertiary air is used
to dilute the high fuel-air ratio mixture and lowering down its
temperature to safe limits for the turbine. The fuel-air mixture is
ignited by means of a high voltage device at the time of starting the
The hot gases from combustion chamber at designed pressure and
temperature expand adiabatically through one or more turbine stages.
Expanded gases from turbine enter the exhaust pipe (tail pipe). This is
provided with a convergent type exhaust or propelling nozzle where
the gases expand further to the ambient pressure. The velocity at exit
is very high corresponding to high values of pressure ratio across the


Exhaust gases from the last turbine stage have a large quantity of
oxygen, which can support the combustion chamber of additional fuel.
If the thrust of the engine is desired to be increased without changing
the physical dimension of the compressor, turbine etc; additional
quantity can be burnt in a section of the jet pipe to increase the
velocity of jet. This process is known as reheating, which is done by
an After Burner. Reheating can also be used for a short time to obtain
increased thrust.


In common with any aircraft the Concorde design has to ensure

the stability of the aircraft over the complete speed range.

It is well known that, as an aircraft accelerates, its aerodynamic

center of pressure moves backwards. On a lot of subsonic aircraft
the tendency of the plane to pitch down is corrected by trimming the
elevators, but there is an aerodynamic drag penalty associated with
this gain in stability

For Concorde at Mach 2.2 a rearward shift of two meters in the

center of aerodynamic pressure occurs.

The kerosene fuel is primarily contained in the wings, but two

supplementary tanks are located in the fuselage, one in the front and
the other in the back. They contain approximately a third of the fuel.
In the climb and acceleration, fuel is pumped rearward into the tanks
of the wing and tail. The centre of gravity will thus move back at the
same time as the center of pressure.
In subsonic equilibrium (1)

In supersonic flight the aircraft "TENDS TO PIQUER" as the centre

of gravity moves back (2)

Classic solution is to rebalance the aircraft using the elevons but this
increases the drag (3)
On Concorde the rebalancing is achieved by a system of fuel
transfer, which makes it possible to readjust the centre of gravity of
the aircraft to match the aerodynamic center of pressure both during
acceleration when the c.g. moves back(4) and,

during deceleration, when the center of gravity moves forward again


to move at the same time the centre of gravity (6)

Other Special Components
There are several components that enable and support the speed and
power achieved by the Concorde.

Fuel Tanks

The Concorde has 17 fuel tanks that can hold a total of 31,569 gallons
(119,500 liters) of kerosene fuel. The main tanks are located in each
wing (five on each side) and fuselage (four).

The Concorde also has three auxiliary or trim fuel tanks (two in front
and one in the tail). Here is what the trim tanks are used for:

• As the Concorde reaches supersonic speeds, its aerodynamic

center of lift shifts backward.
• This shift drives the nose of the aircraft downward.
• To maintain balance, fuel is pumped backward into the trim
• The redistribution of fuel balances the aircraft by making its
center of gravity match the center of lift.
• When the plane slows down, the center of lift shifts forward.
• Fuel is then pumped forward into the trim tanks to compensate

So, unlike other jets, the Concorde uses fuel not only for the engines,
but also for aerodynamic stability.

High-reflectivity Paint

Because the Concorde moves faster than sound, the air pressure and
friction (collision with air molecules) really heat up the plane. The
temperature of the aircraft's skin varies from 261 degrees Fahrenheit
(127 degrees Celsius) at the nose to 196 F (91 C) at the tail. The walls
of the cabin are warm to the touch. To help reflect and radiate this
heat, the Concorde has a high-reflectivity white paint that is about
twice as reflective as the white paint on other jets.

The heat encountered by the Concorde causes the airframe to expand 7

inches (17.8 cm) in flight. To minimize the stress on the aircraft, the
Concorde is made of a special aluminum alloy (AU2GN) that is
lightweight and more heat-tolerant than titanium.
Concorde is not as noisy as that (in normal use).
Curve showing the level of noise produced by various jets at the
moment of takeoff and approach

It will be noticed that concordes it less noisy than some subsonic

The red feature represents the limit of the noise
Even comparison measured in approach, to 1852 meters of the
runway entry.


CONCORDE, employ lot of ingenuity in order to overcome the

difficulties of a supersonic flight.
Indeed, CONCORDE is large (62,19 meters - 202.61 feet), rapid
(Mach 2.02) transports approximately a hundred and twenty people ,
this involves the deformations of structure and the rises in
consequent temperatures.

127° =260°F | 91° =196°F

To 11 miles of altitude and 1364 miles/hours,
Concorde grows of 9.44 inch

For a plane of 202 feet length and 84 feet scale, with an area of 3856
sq ft, the surface of the meters being deducted, the estimate of
weight is185 tons. Approximately 50% of the mass will be devoted
to the fuel. It is seen that the remainder will have to be very light.
On this point, the engineers count on material chosen for the
structure and the coating: a refractory aluminium alloy named
AU2GN. It has only one defect: that to age a little quickly. But it
fights much better the ' heat barrier '. A Mach 2.2, friction will heat
the point of the nose with 356° F, the leading edge with 311°F, the
fuselage and the trailing edge of the aircraft between 284°F and
302°F. Taking into account the ambient cold at high altitude (-
122°F/ -131°F), the temperature of surface will be about 257°F/
266°F, high for traditional alloys. In the absence of AU2GN, it
would be necessary to employ titanium, but this metal is heavier and
also more difficult to work.
The AU2GN is not a ' prototype ' alloy. It is used already for the
paddles of engines at considerable motor mechanics.

The Concordes are undergoing modifications. These
modifications include installing Kevlar linings to the fuel tanks, to
prevent them from rupturing in the event that the wing is punctured,
and strengthening the wiring in the undercarriage

Several plans are going on research to improve the Concorde in terms

of safety and comfort. New seats and cabin lighting are being installed
to improve the passenger's experience onboard the plane. In addition
to the Concorde, other supersonic planes are currently under design.
President Ronald Reagan called for a program to develop a hyperspace
transport or National Aerospace Plane capable of going from New
York to Tokyo in two hours.

One concept of the National Aerospace Plane

Another concept of the National Aerospace Plane

. They would have to develop the air-breathing rocket engines

necessary to achieve the appropriate speeds and deal with the intense
heat of re-entry, much like the space shuttle.


Concorde will retire in 2005/2010/2015 (hard to say) but

what we know is that her successor will not be there to take
place. US say they are not working anymore on that project. French
government has initiated in May 2001 a second call for supersonic
studies but sums allocated are far from what they should be.
As for hypersonic planes, they still belong to science fiction. All
the points (noise, fuel consumption, heating…) must be multiplied
by X. First test of experimental plane without pilot X 43 has failed
on 2nd June 2001. Rocket Pegasus XL, launched from a B 52
bomber above Pacific ocean and was supposed to haul X 43 in high
altitude for an historic flight at Mach 7 (4,800 mph) had to be
destroyed in flight due to erratic comportment

After more than five years of testing in wind tunnel, this real test
should have checked overall performances in flight of the first
scramjet, a revolutionary engine able to propel X 43 at speeds up to
Mach 10 (6,875 mph).X 43 is the result of 20 years of research in
the technology called scramjet (Supersonic Combustible Ramjet)
based on the principle of propelling by a supersonic combustion
ramjet engine