Sir - M Newman, writing about the Airbus Industrie A3XX (Letters, Flight International, 2-8 April, P96), asks: "Will political chicanery and commercial advantage preclude [its] worldwide adoption?"

Urging us to "-remember Concorde", he also asks: "-how many of these aircraft were expected to be sold worldwide?"

The answer to Mr Newman's question is that the usual prediction was 200-300. Some expected more. On 23 December, 1971, Flight International reported Sir George Edwards, chairman of Concorde's maker, predicting that "-the replacement of the ageing subsonic jets, plus an annual growth rate of about 5%, could well require 1,500 Concordes and Concorde development aircraft to be in service by the end of the century". The number which went into service was 14.

Mr Newman's letter shows that we do not "-all know why [Concorde] did not sell". Some experts did predict that it would damage the ozone layer, but this was far from decisive. The decisive factors were sonic boom, which precluded the expected, vital, supersonic, corridors over land; excessive airport noise; and poor operating economics.

British Airways claims that Concorde has achieved profitability. This depends, however, upon:

gimmicks such as champagne trips around the Bay of Biscay and visits to Santa Claus in Lapland;

in the absence of amortisation charges, most (if not all) of the capital costs have been written off by the UK Government.

Even so, presumably because of the high fares, passenger demand has been so slight that the Concorde has achieved utilisation of only a quarter of that of subsonic aircraft.

Richard Wiggs


Bedfordshire, UK


Source: Flight International