This comment from The Voice of America needs answering.
There are myths in aviation that make a good story, but are far from the truth. Some emerge from confusion over the facts, some from a deliberate attempt to spin a legend. One such is RBs failed attempt to ‘save’ Concorde as the popular press in the UK put it at the time.
This myth needs answering…..
In Britain in 2003, Branson also led an unsuccessful effort to keep the supersonic passenger jet Concorde flying. The owner, British Airways, refused to sell the aircraft and forced the fleet into retirement. That put an end to supersonic passenger travel.
Air France had a terrible accident with Concorde, all the details of that accident have yet to be fully released. Air France lost its desire to operate the aircraft but were ‘convinced’ by BA to modify their jet to their standards and continue with the aircraft in service.
Airbus, who had inherited the type share from Aerospatiale, after a time interval ‘decided’ to withdraw the aircrafts type certificate. That means that the aircraft can no longer fly in commercial service. Full stop – no exceptions!
Richard Branson saw an opportunity with absolutely no risk whatever (of having to back up his promise to put the aircraft back into service) to both embarrass British Airways and have Concorde forever liveried in museums in Virgin colors.
The public memory would fade and forget that BA operated the aircraft safely for the 25 years and ‘remember’ only what they see in a museum.
RB generated a spin in the British press and a campaign to ‘save’ Concorde with him as the savior. Another brilliant piece of PR whisked out of the ether but with absolutely no substance. Very audacious, quite clever and very nasty imho.
Do I blame Branson? A wistful response – No, nice try, fairly typical of his MO.
Do we blame the French? good question, you would need to talk to those much closer to the problem but in truth I doubt it. The exercise of bringing the aircraft back into service was expensive and ultimately a waste of money. The French might be accused of perfidious behavior but the contracts for the operation of Concorde were complex from the very beginning and relied on both nations flying the aircraft for it to remain in service. You must draw your own conclusions as to how the aircraft was finally grounded and by whom.
To understand the context of this magnificent aircrafts operation and ultimate departure from service it is necessary to understand fully the depth of affection and commitment of those who flew and cared for her. That cannot be understated.
She was a unique aircraft and held a very special place in the heart of the people both at British Airways and within the UK. That is not something you can hand to a bitter rival on a plate without a fight.
She now sleeps in museums around the world with others that have served us all.