Christmas throwback: Autocar’s Concorde ‘road test’

When lowered, the table sits four degrees adrift of the floor angle so that your champagne stays level in the glass during a supersonic cruise, when the aircraft is flying four degrees nose-up.

Concorde provides excellent facilities, ranging from the small galleys to the even smaller washrooms. But while the galleys turn out superb meals and line wines – thanks to the expertise of the cabin crew – the washrooms allow for very little to be accomplished in comfort.

Any attempt at joining the 10-mile-high club would require an advanced contortionist’s course, followed by a visit to a chiropractor.

It’s worth pointing out that anyone other than a Concorde passenger wanting to sit 11 miles above the Earth would have to be equipped rather differently.

Mandatory would be boots, thermal underwear, a flight suit, g-suit. crash helmet and oxygen mask, while sitting on a seat powered by rockets in case things get a little too exciting.

Sipping champagne and eating haute cuisine while travelling faster than a rifle bullet in shirt-sleeve comfort is the sole preserve of that elite lucky enough to have flown in Concorde.

Running costs

‘If you need to ask how much fuel it uses, you can’t afford one,’ comes to mind. The rate at which Concorde uses fuel simply taxiing on the ground is greater than that of a Boeing 777 cruising.

At take-off power, the fuel burn is 90 tonnes per hour (the tanks only hold 96 tonnes in total). In supersonic cruise, the rate drops to a mere 20 tonnes per hour, which means that Concorde is relatively efficient at cruising speed.

Having said all of this, it’s worth noting that Concorde uses 80 tonnes of fuel to cross from London to New York, while older Boeing 747s use around 75 tonnes.

The time saved by flying Concorde, along with the low stress, lack of dehydration and jet lag proves that you never get anything for nothing. But sometimes in life, the price paid for the advantage gained is clearly worth it.

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