We’ve done it again! There are now three Concorde in the world with functioning “droop noses”, two of which are here in the UK, and Hydraulics Online have designed and supplied the hydraulic systems to power both of them…
The first UK meeting between Great Britain and France to discuss Concorde took place at the Brooklands aerodrome, and more than 30% of every Concorde airframe, British and French, was subsequently manufactured there. G-BBDG (known as Delta Golf, pictured) was the British pre-production Concorde built to finalise the Concorde design and to allow the Concorde fleet to receive certification before the other aircraft entered passenger service. She first flew on 13th February 1974, and was the first aircraft to ever carry 100 people at twice the speed of sound – Mach 2 – 1,350mph. Painted in British Airways livery, Delta Golf flew a total of 1282 hours, 9 minutes.
On 24th December 1981, not long after this picture was taken with the “Red Arrows”, G-BBDG made her final flight and was retired and stored at Filton. She never entered service again and was instead used for spare parts, allowing the airline to operate a fleet of seven aircraft. As well as its nose and tail, other parts were taken including its engines, landing gear and the majority of the components from the hydraulic system. The original nose was later repaired at Brooklands and returned to G-BBDG.
When British Airways and Air France retired their fleets in 2003, Brooklands Museum at Weybridge in Surrey accepted Concorde G-BBDG as a museum exhibit. She was dismantled as far as possible, but still had to be cut up into five major sections to enable transportation to Brooklands Museum; the task of structurally disassembling and reassembling the aircraft was undertaken by Air Salvage International. Delta Golf was then restored by a team of over 100 volunteers from the museum, assisted by students from the University of Surrey.
Three years, and many thousands of man-hours work later, on 26th July 2006, the Brooklands Concorde was opened to the public with the “Concorde Experience” allowing visitors to enter the aircraft and experience a virtual flight at speeds up to Mach 2.
In 2014, having approached Hydraulics Online for assistance two years earlier, a team of fellow enthusiasts and former Concorde engineers – the Heritage Concorde team – successfully restored power to another Concorde’s nose and visor. On display at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, G-AXDN then became the first UK Concorde to droop her nose since 2003 using a bespoke hydraulic system designed and supplied by Hydraulics Online. (You can read more about this project, Project Salute, here.)
The unveiling of Concorde G-AXDN and her droop nose made the headlines and was featured on the BBC News and ITV News as well as being reported on by local and regional press. Restoring the iconic droop nose and visor on G-BBDG was then an obvious further restoration project for the Brooklands Concorde team (pictured) to undertake.
Hydraulics Online designed an external hydraulic system, a bespoke hydraulic power pack, that could be neatly housed within the aircraft and be connected to G-BBDG’s existing nose hydraulic systems… allowing the visor and nose to be lowered and raised at any time from within the cockpit.
Model, racing driver and TV personality, Jodie Kidd was on the final flight of Concorde from New York to London in October 2003, and regularly flew to and from America on the supersonic airliner. It was therefore fitting that she was chosen to unveil the now equally glamorous G-BBDG’s iconic droop nose and visor on 26th July 2016, exactly ten years on from the opening of the Concorde Experience at Brooklands.
So, we’ve done it again; brought an idea to life… made a dream come true. And we couldn’t be prouder. James Cullingham, who led the nose project for the Brooklands Concorde team, thanked Hydraulics Online after the 10th anniversary celebrations saying:
… you supplied exactly what I wanted.
So, whether you have a new idea that you want to prototype, or an existing hydraulic system design that needs improving – we have the knowledge you need. Our hydraulic engineers always relish a challenge, and don’t shy away from fault-finding, diagnostics and solving problems where others may have failed to; it’s all in a day’s work for us. Or as Graham Cahill from the Heritage Concorde team put it:
<you> reeled off figures and technical data that were way above my understanding, but explained things very well. You don’t just shift boxes; you know your business inside and out. A very big “thank you” from the whole team – I hope we can continue the great work.
It would be our absolute pleasure… This is teamwork at its best.