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Flying the Concorde Simulator

When the BA and Air France Concorde stopped flying in October 2003 there were two simulators that had trained all the pilots flying the aircraft. One was in in France and one in the UK. Apparently Air France chopped up their simulator and BA kept theirs. It was later donated to the Brooklands Museum and after 4 years of restoration it was ready to fly again. I tried for 6 month to get a one hour flight on the simulator and was assigned a day in November 2010. I flew from Canada to the UK and spent 3 days there and on the day of my booking I went to the Museum and was given a tour of their actual Concorde G-BBDG, which completed a total of 633 flights with 1282hr 9min in the air.

Concorde G-BBDG at Brooklands Museum

Getting the details on the Concorde Olympus Engine

Getting the details on the Concorde Olympus Engine

When I got into the simulator (which is installed in an adjacent building) there were two Concorde Captains who flew the right seat and the flight engineer. The Concorde always flew with a 3 man crew as the flight engineer was needed to amongst other things manage the fuel tanks to make sure that the CG was maintained at all times.

I got a quick cockpit procedure course and was intrigued by the 4 white buttons on the bottom of the throttle quadrant. They were the afterburners. I choose to take off from JFK and after a very fast take-off with afterburners, we followed the noise procedure for JFK departures with the afterburners off at the same time as gear up.

We climbed to 35000ft and then re-lit the afterburners and climbed to 57000ft during which time we broke the sound barrier twice. After having achieved Mach 1 the afterburners were turned off and we quickly got to Mach 2 and the assigned altitude.

Here I tried some stalls and other maneuvers and found out that delta wings need different handling. We the proceeded to do a landing at “Kai Tak” (in Hong Kong) with the famous approach past the checkerboard. I got into trouble right away not realizing that when you raise the nose you increase the sink rate.

I managed to get the aircraft landed, thanks to my right seat captain. The normal landing speed was 170 miles per hour (274 km/h). Because of the high angle, during a landing approach Concorde was on the “back side” of the drag force curve; the aircraft was largely flown on the throttle and was fitted with an auto throttle to reduce the pilot’s workload, I was flying it manually and of course that added to my trouble.

Concorde Simulator Cockpit

Concorde Simulator Cockpit

The museum has done a great job of restoring the simulator and even without any motion and a Microsoft flight simulator program it was a great way to spend an hour flying the Concorde.

Concorde Landing

This is what the museum writes about the simulator:

THE BRITISH AIRWAYS CONCORDE SIMULATOR

The Concorde Simulator was commissioned in 1975 as one of just two in the world, at a cost of about £3 million – over £20 million at today’s prices. One of the most sophisticated aircraft simulators ever created, it was installed at the British Aircraft Corporation at Filton near Bristol and, for 28 years, was used to train all British Airways Concorde aircrew. When Concorde operations ceased at the end of 2003, BA decommissioned the simulator and, a year later, it was dismantled and transported to Brooklands Museum.

As a result of a three-year project, initially funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), led by a team of volunteers from the Museum and the University of Surrey, along with the expert assistance of XPI Simulation, this unique piece of aviation technology is being flown again as a fixed-base unit – the only operational Concorde Simulator in the world.

If anybody are interested in this great adventure, visit the museum website:

http://www.brooklandsconcorde.co.uk/

Story “Flyvertosset”, Photos by “Flyvertosset” & Kane LS Smith, Harm Rutten

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