The crash of Air France Concorde Flight 4590 in 2000 was the beginning of the end for supersonic passenger flights across the ocean on a truly wonderful luxury aircraft. The Concorde was first built in 1967, and started passenger flights in 1969, when the thought of supersonic flight for paying customers was groundbreaking. And while the first flights consisted of the rich and the famous, it was soon affordable for the average person. There were 20 of these high speed birds built with 7 going to Air France, and 7 going to British Airways in a joint venture. The other 6 were used in a non-airline designation. Russia countered with its own version called the Tupolev Tu-144, and in 1970, Boeing built their version, the 2707, but cancelled any further production because it could not be made profitable.
The aircraft was of a sleek design which gave it the ability to fly at an altitude of 60,000 feet, and zip along at a cruising speed of 1,334 mph. While it takes conventional aircraft 8 hours to get from New York to Paris, it took 3 hours on a Concorde. On that fateful day, July 25, 2000, Flight 4590 was approaching take-off speed, at Charles de Gaulle airport when it ran over a 2 by 1 ft piece of metal that had fallen off a jetliner that took-off ahead of it. That metal punctured a tire that threw debris which punctured a fuel tank next to the engine and started a fire. The control tower radioed the pilot and told him that his plane was on fire, and the pilot, who had just lifted off the runway radioed back that it was too late.
That crashed took the lives of all 109 on board, and 4 on the ground, with most of the passengers on the plane being German, and were headed for a cruise in the Caribbean. While the crash was not a main reason, it was a combination of that and a loss of profits that led to the end of Concorde flights with the last one touching down on October 24, 2003. Some of the planes are on display at museums, and others are mothballed, but for a while, we were privileged to be able to travel faster than the speed of sound.
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