For details on the arrival of Concorde 216 at Filton -click here
BAC/Aerospatiale Concorde 202, G-BBDG
Concorde G-BBDG was the third UK-assembled Concorde, and was one of two early production aircraft. These two aircraft, one French one British, came after two prototypes and two pre-production Concordes, and were used to refine the design before full production could commence. Although they were production aircraft, they had several structural differences from the subsequent production aircraft, which meant they never saw airline service.
Known as 'Concorde 202', and registered G-BBDG, it first flew from Filton in February 1974, and was used extensively in the Concorde development flight programme. Although its first flight was in an all white colour scheme, it was later painted in full British Airways colours. It was used for airline and airport training, and was also instrumental in getting Concorde its Certificate of Airworthiness.
Storage at Filton
When development work finished in December 1981, it was placed in external storage at Filton Airfield. The British Airways colours on the tail were painted out, but the rest of the BA colour scheme remained on the fuselage. After several years in the open, a purpose-built hangar was constructed for it on the north side of the airfield, and in May 1988 it was finally moved under cover in its new home. In order to make the best use of the space, the tail and nose cone were removed. It was then used by British Airways and BAE Systems to develop and test modifications to the BA Concorde fleet, and as a source of spares.
Delta Golf remained in this hangar for over 14 years, being visible through open doors on very very few occasions. On the morning of February 20th 2001, it was pulled out of the hangar, and for several hours the aircraft was on full view. The state of the aircraft was apparent, not just the lack of nose cone and tail, but the flimsy undercarriage assembly was not standard issue!
The Return To Flight
Following the tragic crash of the Air France Concorde at Paris, and the subsequent grounding of the Air France and British Airways Concorde fleet, Delta Golf played a role in the efforts to return Concorde to the skies.
The Paris accident was the result of a chain of improbable events:
All of these events were analysed individually, with solutions found for each. A section of Delta Golfs wing was used to recreate the ripple effect on the wing panels in laboratory conditions at Filton. A device normally used to recreate a bird strike was used to launch debris at the wing section at a similar angle and speed as in the accident, but this time with the new Kevlar tank lining in place. The test proved that with the Kevlar, the tank could not be pierced under the same conditions. During these tests, Delta Golf did not leave its hangar.
Move To Main Hangar
On 25th October 2002, Delta Golf was moved out of its home for the past 14 years, and towed across the airfield to the east bay of the former Brabazon Assembly Hall, recently vacated by Aviation Services. The reason for the move was to allow the Concorde engineers easier access to the aircraft, as the hangar is far larger that its previous home, not to mention the better facilities, including heating! Research was being carried out into cockpit door modifications, which would have been applied to the British Airways fleet. The modification came about as a security requirement following the "9/11" attacks in the USA. In January 2003, G-BBDG returned to her hangar on the northside of the airfield.
Click on the thumbnail images below to see full size
On April 10th 2003, British Airways and Air France announced that their Concorde fleets would be retired by the end of the year. Both airlines donated their aircraft to museums around the world, with the BA fleet being dispersed in October and November. Concorde 216, G-BOAF, was delivered to Filton on 26th November 2003, for preservation in the planned heritage museum.
In early 2004 it was revealed that British Airways had donated G-BBDG to the Brooklands Museum at Weybridge Although final assembly was at Filton, more parts for Concorde were built at Weybridge than any other British factory, so the museum would be a fitting home for this example. Work started almost straight away on removing all sundry items from the aircraft, which were then transported to Brooklands. At the same time, fund raising for its transportation and restoration began, and a major project started to located any original items from Delta Golf, and to source other items from several sources, including Concorde memorabilia auctions.
With the outer wings removed, the aircraft was towed to 'Palm Beach', a concreted area on the airfield north of the runway. Here Delta Golf was prepared for its road journey to Brooklands. On 5th May the nose and tail sections were cut off, and roaded to Brooklands the same day. The act of cutting the fuselage will create a 3mm gap between the sections, but this can be patched up during restoration. As the aircraft will never fly again, the join only needs to be cosmetic. Later in May the wing stubs were cut close to the fuselage, and roaded out. 5th June was the day when the last piece, the remaining fuselage centre section, was loaded onto a truck, and transported to Brooklands.
202 will now be pieced back together, and painted in its original 1970's era British Airways colour scheme - and will be the only surviving Concorde to wear that particular livery. The restoration will be a long and expensive process, and the Brooklands Museum is actively seeking donations and volunteers on its Concorde website.
For more photos and information on Concorde 202, and for other Concordes, go to the excellent Concorde website - http://www.concordesst.com