G-BSST. British Aircraft Corporation Concorde 102. c/n 13520-002.
This aircraft was the first British built Concorde Prototype constructed by British Aircraft Corporation at the Filton, Bristol plant. It was entered onto the British Aircraft Register as G-BSST on May 6, 1968 to the Ministry of Technology, London.
It flew for the time on April 9, 1969 when it departed Filton before landing at Fairford, when development flying was carried out. It was registered to the Ministry of Aviation Supply, London (Certificate of Registration R.10000/1) on February 19, 1971. This aircraft carried out a 45,000 mile demonstration tour visiting 12 countries in the Far East and Australia from June 1972.
"The early aim during the test flights with the Concorde Prototypes was to expand the flight envelope as quickly as possible, to prove the sums and predictions were somewhere near correct! Clearly there would have been little point in progressing, if the performance was not correct, as his was of critical significance to the success of the aircraft, even more than is usually so on an airliner, because of the very high fuel consumption involved when flying both supersonic and at slow speed, subsonic.
"As an example, initial supersonic consumption at the start of cruise, typically Mach 2.02 at 50,000ft is 24,000 kgs per hour, reducing eventually in the cruise climb on a long supersonic leg to about 17,000 kgs per hour at 60,000ft at the top of descent.
"Initial flying found the aircraft to be very 'flyable' and in the takeoff and landing phase, perhaps a lot better than some had predicted. There were virtually no real handling problems of significance to prevent fairly rapid expansion of the flight envelope, caution being the greatest brake on the rate of progress. In this period, many myths were exploded, some perhaps to embarrassing to mention. One, however, that can be recalled was the professed difficulty it was thought would be found in taxying the aircraft because the pilot being so far in front of the nose and main wheels. To compensate for this, no less than two TV cameras were provided, one pointing aft and the other forward. The one point aft was incorrectly fitted because it was not a mirror image, and the right wheel became the left and vice versa. Happily the whole thing could be forgotten because, in the event, taxying was found to be extremely straight forward. Theories about landing the aircraft caused a few problems initially, but as soon as everyone treated it like any other aeroplane, these soon went away!
"As soon as the magic Mach 2.0 was achieved, it became apparent that the early encouraging signs concerning performance were confirmed. It did what it was expected to do! All that remained was to make it into an airliner acceptable to the Certification Authorities. An elaborate set of so called, TSS Standards had been drawn up to cover the areas where the normal BCAR’s and FAR’s were inadequate - the 'T' being in front of the two “S’s” to accommodate the strange French habit of getting their adjectives in the wrong place!
"The Prototypes contributed a lot of general useful information both concerning systems and the environment during this period, but their use was quickly becoming much reduced and it was the turn of the Pre-production aircraft to take over.” (Information by Peter Baker, BAC Concorde Flight Test Pilot)
The last flight of G-BSST was carried out from Filton to Yeovilton, Somerset on March 4, 1976. She is now preserved and on display at the Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton, United Kingdom.
G-BSST was cancelled from the British Civil Aircraft Register on January 21, 1987 as 'permanently withdrawn from use'.
On her permanent grounding G-BSST had flown a total of 836 hours and 9 minutes with 438 cycles. It flew a total of 196 supersonic speed cycles for some 173 hours and 26 minutes.
G-BSST. British Aircraft Corporation - in the original livery at Paris Air Show, May 1969.