Air France and British Airways (BA) have set 7 November as the day their Aerospatiale/British Aerospace Concorde will resume services, 15 months after the July 2000 Paris crash led to their grounding. The modified aircraft could remain in service for at least another 12 years, says BA, which owns the higher-time/higher flight-cycle aircraft.

Both airlines are taking bookings, with Air France initially offering five Paris-New York return schedules a week and BA with six London-New York flights. On 1 December BA will begin a once-a-week schedule to Barbados, but the airline says that it will be at least a year before it considers offering fleet capacity for charter flights.

New York's mayor Rudolph Giuliani has welcomed Concorde's return: "I am proud to welcome Concorde back to New York," he says.

Time out of service and lower usage of the already low-use Concorde fleet are the major factors heralding an extended service life. BA says that, before the crash of an Air France aircraft, it had planned further life extension tests and engineering in 2006, but the need for this will now move back at least two years. Low use - initially one schedule a day instead of two - will also mean that BA has the option to delay investing in the modifications needed to recertificate some of its seven Concordes, although the airline insists that it still plans to prepare them all for service.

Prior to the Concorde accident, the aircraft's calculated design life was defined as 8,500 reference flights, with one such flight equivalent to a long sector operated from a take-off at a gross weight of more than 170t (for example, a transatlantic service). A take-off for a shorter flight at, for example, a gross weight of 120t, counts as 0.5 reference flights. At the next life-extension, says BA, it anticipates extending the permitted reference flight limit to 11,500 which, it says, could see the type remain in service as far ahead as 2016.

Source: Flight International