The Concorde Flew at Twice the Speed of Sound — Here’s Why It Stopped Flying in 2003

Kelly Corbett - Author

Aug. 18 2022, Published 10:49 p.m. ET

The Concorde
Source: Getty Images

Who remembers the Concorde? Built by aircraft manufacturers in Great Britain and France during the Cold War, the Concorde was the fastest commercial airliner to ever take the skies. In fact, it flew at approximately 1,350 miles an hour.

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But unfortunately, the Concorde was decommissioned in 2003. And just like that, supersonic travel was no more. In the almost two decades since, we've returned to normal speeds up above. So, what gives? Why did the Concorde stop flying? Also, will supersonic air travel ever return? Keep reading to find out.

The Concorde
Source: Getty Images
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What was the Concorde?

Introduced in 1976, the Concorde is one of the most iconic jets of all time. It was able to transport roughly 100 passengers at a time at a maximum speed of over twice the speed of sound (yes, really!).

For example, a flight from London to New York would take upwards of eight hours on a regular aircraft today. But back in the days of the Concorde, that time would be more than cut in half.

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During a British Airways flight in February 1996, the Concorde flew from New York JFK to London Heathrow in just two hours, 52 minutes, and 59 seconds. That's how fast it was. No wonder its tagline was "Arrive Before You Leave."

Of course, traveling that fast didn't come cheap. Each flight cost a few thousand dollars. Flying on a Concorde jet wasn't for the average American.

Why did the Concorde stop flying?

In July 2000, a Concorde plane took off from Paris and tragically caught fire on its left wing. The plane crashed and killed 113 people. That was the beginning of the end for the Concorde.

It would retire three years later in 2003 due to a lack of demand and rising maintenance costs.

Ever since its demise, air travel has lagged. However, there may be a bit of good news on the horizon.

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Per Secret London, American Airlines, United Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic have already placed orders on what is being dubbed the "Overture" model. Created by aviation startup Boom Supersonic, its website defines the "Overture" model as "the world's fastest airliner — optimized for speed, safety, and sustainability."

According to Boom Supersonic, the Overture models are expected to begin trials by 2026. If all goes well, they should be ready for public flights by 2029. While these aircraft will hold slightly fewer passengers than the Concorde, there will be more routes available. Boom Supersonic is gearing up to have its Overture models fly more than 600 routes around the world in as little as half the time.

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