Dubai, which has already snapped up arguably the world’s most famous cruise ship, the QE2 (see past articles – “Full Steam Ahead For QE2” and “Dubai’s Floating Phenomena”), is now bidding for an icon of the skies - the supersonic Anglo-French Concorde.
Forty years after the British version of the graceful delta-winged aircraft took off on its maiden 22-minute flight, it’s reported that a Dubai-based consortium wants to turn one of the planes into a tourist attraction, possibly on one of the country’s man-made palm-shaped islands.
British Airways grounded its seven-strong Concorde fleet six years ago and gave six to museums. But it kept one, Alpha Bravo, which is now hidden away behind the airline’s engineering base at Heathrow Airport.
By contrast, an Air France Concorde stands proudly on a plinth outside the airline’s headquarters at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. Another is preserved at the Paris Air and Space Museum by former engineers who regularly run the electronic and hydraulic systems. A report at the beginning of the month that one of the French models would fly again was revealed later as an April Fool’s hoax.
It’s BA’s Alpha Bravo that is the reported subject for negotiation, but the wings would have to be sliced off before it could be loaded on to a ship for Dubai. Concorde devotees (and there are many), are not happy on either count. Ben Lord, of the Save Concorde Group, said: “Sending it to Dubai would be a kick in the teeth for Britain’s aviation heritage. Chopping off its wings and putting it on a ship would be the final insult.”
A source close to the Dubai consortium told the Times newspaper in London that it would spend several million pounds restoring the aircraft’s interior, much of which was removed and used as spares on other Concordes.
by Andy Moreton