When Did Concorde First Fly to North America? | History Hit

When Did Concorde First Fly to North America?

History Hit

07 Jun 2019
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British Airways Concorde. Image Credit Eduard Marmet / Commons.

Concorde, perhaps the most iconic airliner in history, made its first commercial flight on 21 January 1976.

British Airways and Air France both scheduled flights for that day, with BA flying Concorde from London to Bahrain and Air France from Paris to Rio de Janeiro.

It wasn’t until a year later that passengers could fly to North America.

British Airways Concorde at London-Heathrow Airport, in the early 1980s. Image Credit Plismo / Commons.


Lifting the ban

In December 1970 the Senate voted against permitting commercial supersonic flights to pass over, or to land in the United States due to the impact of sonic booms and high noise levels during take-off and landing.

The ban was lifted in May 1976 at Washington Dulles Airport and both Air France and British Airways opened routes to the American capital.

Angry Anti-Concorde protesters lobbied New York City and succeeded in pushing through a local ban.

Despite continued opposition the ban was overturned by the Supreme Court in October 1977 after it was argued Air Force One produced more noise on take-off and landing than Concorde.

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Taking off

On 22 November 1977, scheduled flights on the coveted London and Paris to New York routes finally began.

The crossing took approximately three and a half hours, knocking four and a half hours off the subsonic flight time, with tickets costing in the region of £1000.

On 7 February 1996, Concorde set the record for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic by a civil aircraft when it flew New York to London in just two hours, 52 minutes and 59 seconds.

New York to London was also the route of Concorde’s last commercial flight on 24 October, 2003.






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