Concorde is frequently referred to as the crowning glory in aviation engineering history, remembered as the only aircraft capable of long-distance supersonic travel in luxurious surroundings.
Following its introduction in 1976, the famous aircraft flew from London Heathrow to New York JFK in less than three hours, half the time required by conventional aircraft. Concorde could carry anywhere between 90 and 120 passengers (depending on layout) and operated at altitudes and speeds of 60,000 ft and Mach 2.04.
Concorde quickly became popular with the international business community, despite only 20 ever being made, with limited flight routes. Suddenly, business people were able to travel from London to New York for a meeting and return on the same day. While very few people were able to justify this kind of expenditure, it gave the international business community the opportunity to do business quickly, with the advertising guru and art collector Charles Saatchi once saying that Concorde was the reason why he was able to set up offices in New York and London, and do business as he needed.
After 27 years, Concorde was sadly withdrawn from service following problems relating to an ill-fated flight from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport in July 2000.
Shortly after this setback, and the atrocious incidents of 9/11 – which resulted in a slump in air travel – and for other financial reasons, all remaining aircraft belonging to British Airways and Air France were retired, never to be flown again.
While this was a blow to the aviation engineering history, it also left the international business community without a means of high-speed, luxurious and convenient transatlantic travel. No other aircraft has come close to replicating the speed of the aircraft, so the obvious successor to the throne was the private jet.
With jets such as the Gulfstream G550 and the Dassault Falcon 7X able to fly up to 14 passengers from Manchester to Los Angeles, many in the international business community looked to private jets to reduce their flight time. Requiring minimal airport check-in times, and offering the ability to fly to and from smaller airports closer to their departure points and destinations, not to mention allowing passengers to work in privacy while airborne, private jets have managed to make transatlantic flights as efficient as possible. And with the introduction of fractional aircraft ownership programmes in the 1990s, the cost of private jet use was significantly reduced, making private flight much more economically viable.