French engineers aim to get Concorde moving again
A group of French engineers is investigating the engines of a museum's Concorde to see if they could be restarted, with the aim of at least taxiing the supersonic jet.
The engineers are part of aeronautical association Olympus593, which is named after the jet's four Rolls Royce/Snecma engines. The group reached an agreement with the director of the Le Bourget Air and Space Museum to begin work on its Concorde – F-BTSD, or Sierra Delta – which last flew in 2003.
An initial borescopy, in which an Air France mechanic who worked on Concorde used a flexible camera to examine the engines, gave promising results. The mechanic, Pascal Touzeau, reported that “all is in perfect condition.” However, Olympus593 said it could take as much as a year to complete all the tests needed before restarting the engines.
"The objective is not to get it to fly again but to get the engines working again, hoping one day to see it taxi on the tarmac for the pleasure of visitors to the museum," said Frederic Pinlet, head of Olympus593.
The French project is supported by a similar British association called Save Concorde Group. Its vice-chairman Ben Lord said that the French have the notable advantage in that the museum owns the airframe, whereas BA still owns the British Concordes and has consistently blocked attempts to get them flying again.
He added that BA had still not told the truth about its decision to take Concorde out of service. “BA has stated that a feasibility study was conducted in 2003 to consider keeping Concorde in the air, and that the proposition was found not to be viable,” he said. “However, following a recent meeting between our organisation and a former member of BA management, we can reveal that a feasibility study was never conducted.”
Whether by accident or design, the engine tests on Sierra Delta began the day after the end of the trial relating to the 2000 Paris Concorde crash, although the trial verdict is not due until December. That crash let to Concorde's grounding and ultimately to the end of supersonic jet passenger services.
In 2007, another British group – Vulcan To The Sky - test-flew Avro Vulcan XH558, having restored the now 50-year-old V-bomber to flying condition. The Vulcan is also powered by four Olympus engines, although different models from the Concorde's and without reheat. The aircraft has flown at numerous airshows since returning to the air.