166 – Flying the Concorde
Guest: John Hutchinson Host: Markus Voelter Shownoter: Tim Jurik
Here is another episode in our ongoing (and hopefully never ending :-)) series on flying iconic airplanes. This time we talk with former Concorde pilot John Hutchinson about flying this Mach 2 airliner. We discuss the cornerstones of the design and construction of the aircraft, its operation (mostly with British Airways), flying characteristics as well as the infamous accident in Paris in 2000 (on which John has some very specific opinions).
John Hutchinson Introduction00:00:30
Harvard Airplane | Gimli | T-33 | Vampire (Airplane) | Hunter (Airplane) | Avro Shackleton | Avro Lancaster | Central Flying School | Helio Courier | Piper Aztec | Cessna 310 | Piaggio 166 | Quantas Airlines | Boeing 707 | Inertial Navigation System | LORAN | Astro-Navigation | Boeing 747 | VC-10
Concorde Overview and Design Characteristics00:08:34
Wind tunnel | Engine Intake System | SR71 | Engine Unstart | Wing Design | Tilting Nose | Autoland | Whitcomb's Area Rule
Optimized for Supersonic Cruise Flight
Mach Number | Shockwave Shape and Center of Lift | Cruise Altitude | BA Speedbird Callsign
Flight Control Computers00:43:00
INS | DME | Autothrottle | Wind Shear | CAT 3
English/French Design Collaboration00:48:20
Flying the Airplane, Roles, Tasks00:52:57
Gander | Bangor, Maine | Elevon | Fly by Wire | Landing | Coffin Corner and High-Speed Buffet | Stall | Subsonic to Supersonic Transition | Flight Routes | Terminal Area operations and ATC | Windsor Locks
Typical Fight Profile01:15:31
Training, Trainers and Simulators01:26:16
Passenger interaction and some well-known names01:14:19
Concordes in Museums1:58:00
Museum Sinsheim | Smithsonian Air and Space Museum | Museum of Flight Seattle | Intrepid Museum Hudson River | Barbados Concorde | Brookland's | Filton Concorde | Manchester Concorde | Edinburgh Concorde
Life after Concorde, Perspective, Closing Remarks02:00:16
Markus Wrap-up, Thank you to contributors02:03:30
Web page about Concorde Accident | Take-Off and Landing Video | Concorde web site
Wow, what an amazing topic. Can’t wait to listen to this episode!
On the topic of Concorde: Here is a link to a forum’s thread with a lot of anecdotes:
One may take a weekend or two to crawl through the awesomeness.
Andre, thanks for the link!
THIS guy had been really awsome listening to! Really enjoyed those nice stories – „…they come visiting you on the flight deck…“
A big thumbs up for this amazing episode, to both of you!
Awesome episode. I now want to invent a time machine to become a Concorde pilot ;)
That would be a nice biography after 50 years of work: “He became a physicist because he wanted to invent a time machine so he could become a Concorde pilot” :-)
A great episode. The complexities of expansion and retraction reminds me of engineering hurdles in motherboard engineering. I was also enthralled with the chain of errors / poor decisions which led to Concorde accident.
Thank You John and Markus for this amazing conversation! This was the most interesting and fun to listen episode of Omega Tau in a long time!
I had no idea what complex engenieering challenges were mastered by this airliner.
Thanks for this super cool episode! I only got hooked on omegatau recently and now I can’t stop listening, thanks so much for all the effort and awesome podcasts
Thanks Peter :-) I’ll tell John!
Have fun! There should be a few hours available now :-)
Great show! My first show in this podcast series I have heard. Very fascinating. Listen to parts of it twice.
Thanks Derek. Now you have a lot of other shows to listen to. I remember when I discovered Space Rocket History and I could listen to 70 episodes “in a row”. Cool :)
Brilliant episode. Before listening to this all I knew of Concorde was the beautiful shape and top speed. I knew nothing about it’s sophisticated air intakes, the fact that it used ballast for fuel, or that it lost so much efficiency when it wasn’t traveling supersonic. Great guest, and Markus, you asked terrific questions that drew out Mr. Hutchinson’s more detailed knowledge the aircraft.
Thanks Caleb! But we also have to think your fellow listeners who submitted many interesting questions in advance of the show!
This was a really great episode Markus! Thanks again.
Thanks Bert :-)
What a fabulous episode!
As a keen teenage aircraft kit modeller, I had a 1/144 scale Airfix Concorde suspended in my bedroom pretty much as soon as the kit was released in the late sixties and I think, before the maiden flight of the prototype. Nearly fifty years later I’m still learning fascinating things about this magnificent machine!
Once again you asked all the right questions Marcus and it was wonderful to hear John’s detailed and forthright answers.
Towards the end I was thinking that The Accident was going to be skirted around – that possibly John wouldn’t want to talk about it. But then I was blown away by his forthright comments about it and he gave some opinions on the causes that I’d never heard before.
On a lighter note, I have heard an anecdote about the joints in the fuselage to allow for thermal expansion. Here’s a link to a site that has a photograph inside one of the aircraft now on display. Before it cooled down after its last flight the flight engineer stuck his cap in the joint. In light of John’s comments that it’s unlikely any Concord will fly again, it’s there forever!
Thanks Rob for your comments and the link. Nice picture :-)
I have admit, that most of the time I’m too lazy to write comments, but this time I had to… Thank you Markus and John for the great talk!!
Thanks Michael :)
Probably one of the top ten episodes of OmegaTau with your humorous (spelled right?) and heart-warmingly emotional interview partner John Hutchinson!
I’ve been very astonished – once again – of what details us “normal” people never hear, although we might be interested in the topic. Now, after this interview, I would be so keen to have the possibility of taking a flight with this much more than ever supposed fascinating machine!
Thanks to both of you for this interesting and entertaining talk!
Thanks Jochen :-)
Thank you very much, Markus – there’s really a lot to learn from your interviews. You can’t get this level of detail anywhere else, I really love these long interviews with people who actually know something. And it’s obvious there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work going into this, many thanks for that!
And also many thanks to John for taking so much time, for going so much into details and for being so entertaining all the way. It was great fun listening to the both of you :)
Thank you Christoph. That kind of feedback is what keeps us going here :-)
Ausgezeichnet! 2 hours of conversation very well spent. Amazing insights into operations not mentioned anywhere before and probably unavailable anyway. Certainly the final crash details far more comprehensive than previously given and I read the complete BEA investigation report.
Thank you both.
Thanks Andy :-)
Absolutly brilliant episode ! A real pleasure to listen to. Will became a classic instantly. Thanks a lot Markus
Thx Thomas :-)
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Begeistert, dass ich Eure Seite gefunden habe. Die Gespraeche ueber Concorde/SR71 und Carriers waren wunderbar.
Ich finde dieses Konzept prima. Danke, ich wuensche Euch viel Spass und Erfolg.
Danke Peter :-)
Very interesting episode with a lot of astonishing insights.
Thanks Andreas :-)
“…a fussion of art and technology into one sublime beautiful creation.”
Wonderfull facts and memories. Many thanks
Great Entertainment! Thanks guys!
Thank you for a wonderful episode…..
You’re welcome :-)
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Just listened to this for a second time and it has to be my favourite episode. Such a fascinating subject. A really informative episode with such a knowledgable and entertaining guest. Great interview as always. Great work :D
Wow, listening twice requires some serious dedication :-)
Whow! One of the nicest podcasts I’ve heard since a while. I was constantly smiling, I just love this guy! He is so passionate and so grateful for everything, his career, his experiences, the engineers having built Concorde. (what a contrast to the very “german” A380 pilot recently on this program…)
And what a nice collection of english superlative adjectives. I have to listen to it again and write them all down :-)
I was always curious about the early shutdown of one of the engines by the flight engineer. If he had not shut down the engine…would they have made it to Le Bourget?
Legendary plane and legendary pilot
Came across this quite by accident – was originally looking at stuff on Alan Turing – I’ve bookmarked this and will be back . superb!
One of my friends worked on the development of Concorde’s fuel pumps and he did explain to me the unique features to which they had to work. But there is so much more to the design and aeronautics of this beautiful machine, and John Hutchinson’s descriptions are terrifically done. Thank you.
My favorite episode, so far.
About french-british collaboration after development of Concorde was finalized (@0h52m): I feel this was cut short – why on earth wouldn’t Air France want to work with British Airways regarding maintenance etc.? AFAIK they where the only airlines flying that very special plane … why would one choose NOT to continue sharing information and cooperating? Especially on such a costly and advanced project.
Maybe the bi-national development phase did not go so smoothly after all?
Thank you for giving me access to these interesting conversations of yours!