The sleekest and the fastest jet aircraft in the world. The Concorde.

Sounds like an ad?

Wait till you hear how much it costs to travel in it.

A trip on this aircraft could cost you $9,000 – at least 25 per cent more than the regular first class travel fare.

For a long time, the Concorde was considered the safest aircraft – the only jet aircraft in the history of aviation which has never had a serious accident.

The Concorde
The Concorde []
But all that changed on July 25, last year. When an Air France Concorde, flying to New York city, crashed outside Paris. Killing all 113 passengers and the crew on board. Ever since last year’s accident, Air France grounded its remaining five Concordes.

Now, a year after the horrific crash, Air France officials have carried out two test flights to ensure that July 25, 2000, isn’t repeated. Modified concorde jets will be cleared for commercial flights expected to take off from November this year.

The new jets have two main features. Firstly, they are equipped with extra-durable radial tires, designed to withstand ruptures. Such ruptures were the main cause of last year’s crash. The second feature is the addition of leak-prood fuel tank liners. The liners use the same technology that is used in military helicopters and Formula 1 race cars.

That’s how careful the manufacturers of the Concorde generally are. But then they have to be. The Concorde is the favourite aircraft of the world’s richest people. And there is only one reason why. Its speed.

The Concorde flies at nearly 60,000 feet. It crosses the Atlantic in about three hours. That’s three hours less than a regular jet plane takes to cross the same route. This is possible because the Concorde flies at supersonic speeds — that is higher than the speed of sound.

As an aeroplane approaches the speed of sound, air pressure builds up in front of the craft creating a “barrier”. Exceeding this speed causes a shock wave, called sonic boom, which can cause a pilot to lose control of the engine.

The Concorde is designed to resist such stress. Its special shape has a narrow nose, which tilts downward to provide the pilot greater visibility for take offs and landings. At very high speed, the nose is raised to reduce air resistance. This allows it to withstand the turbulence it creates when it breaks the sound barrier.