Frequently Asked Questions
Since 2004 when the volunteer team started working on Delta Golf's restoration, visitors to the museum have asked and continue to ask a wide variety of questions about the aircraft and the restoration project. Below is a selection of some of the more common questions. If you have a question that doesn't appear here, please feel free to send me an email using the link on the 'Contact' page.
This is taken from the last two letters of her registration 'G-BBDG'. The letters 'DG' are known as Delta Golf in the Phonetic Alphabet.
Question 2: When was Delta Golf built?
Construction of the various sections of the airframe began in Weybridge and Toulouse in 1970. Final assembly of DG started at the end of 1971 at Filton in Bristol and the fitting out of the aircraft's systems continued through 1972 and early 1973. The completed aircraft was officially registered as G-BBDG and rolled out at the end of 1973.
Question 5: How many flying hours did Delta Golf accumulate?
1282 hours during 633 flights. Of those, 514 hours were supersonic.
Question 6: Will Delta Golf ever fly again?
Unfortunately this will never be possible. A feasability study was undertaken by British Airways in the early 1990s to evaluate the possibility of returning DG to flying condition and refitting her for airline service but this was determined to be far too costly. This decision ultimately determined that Delta Golf would spend the rest of her days on the ground. In addition to this, cutting the airframe up for the move to Brooklands in 2004 meant that she could never be re-certified for flight. Apart from the structural implications, when Delta Golf was cut up most of the hydraulic and fuel lines were cut through - as was much of the electrical wiring.
Question 7: Why was Delta Golf cut up?
After her final flight DG spent 20 or so years in storage at Filton near Bristol. As she was no longer airworthy, moving her to Brooklands had to be done by road. The Highways Agency has regulations on the maximum size of any load being transported on British roads and to comply with these the only option was to cut DG into 5 sections. Aside from this, DG would not have fitted along some of the narrow roads at either end of the journey from Filton to Brooklands if she had been left in one piece.
Question 8: How long will it take to put Delta Golf back together?
The main structural re-assembly work took just over two years to complete. The restoration is also largely complete but some minor work continues to be ongoing.
Question 9: Who is doing the restoration work?
The main structural re-assembly work was carried out by Air Salvage International who specialise in aircraft salvage and recovery. The rest of the restoration work has been done by a large team of volunteers. This work includes cleaning, sanding, painting, wiring, re-fitting the smaller structural pieces, fitting out the aircraft interior and the repair and manufacture of damaged or missing components.
Question 10: Did Delta Golf ever go into commercial service with British Airways?
No, although for promotional reasons she did wear a BA livery for most of her operational life. Along with French Concorde 'F-WTSB' Delta Golf did, however, do the bulk of the flying that allowed the final certification of Concorde for airline service. DG was also used extensively for BA crew training.
Question 11: Which livery will Delta Golf wear once restored?
Delta Golf now proudly wears the original British Airways Union Jack livery from the late Seventies/early Eighties (as seen here) that she wore during most of her operational life.
Question 12: Will Delta Golf be open to visitors?
Delta Golf is now open to the public! Click here for details.
Question 13: Will seats be fitted into the cabin?
The forward cabin has now been fitted with 40 original Concorde seats. The rear cabin now houses an exhibition that details Delta Golf's history and her restoration. There is also a selection of other Concorde related memorabilia.
Question 14: Will Delta Golf have engines fitted?
The structural re-join of DG's wings was specifically designed to not include the need to support the considerable weight of four Olympus 593 engines (over 3 tons each) and so they are therefore not fitted. However, an engine is on display beside the aircraft.
Question 15: Will it be possible for the droop nose to be moved up and down?
Delta Golf's hydraulic systems have long been incomplete and inoperative so the nose and visor are fixed in the up position. However, there is a possibility of an electro-mechanical system being fitted sometime in the future that will enable the nose to be moved.
Question 16: Where will Delta Golf be exhibited?
In May 2011 Delta Golf was moved from the location she had sat in since arriving in 2004 and now sits on new tarmac area in front of the VC10 in the aircraft park (see photo). Brooklands have applied for a lottery grant to build a large structure that will house Delta Golf and the Vickers aircraft (the VC10, the Vanguard, the Viscount, the Viking and the Varsity).
Question 17: In old photos of Delta Golf, what are the black squares on the side of the fuselage for?
These are tracking marks that were used to help cameras track the aircraft in flight during the flight test programme of the 1970s. At the present time the squares have not been re-applied to Delta Golf at Brooklands but may be added some time in the future.
Question 18: As Delta Golf was used extensively as a source of spares, does Brooklands have all the parts needed to re-assemble the aircraft?
Fortunately, virtually all the original parts and components that were removed from Delta Golf during the 80s and 90s were either found or alternatives located during the course of the restoration. Many of these came from British Airways spares at Heathrow and were donated to the museum by the airline when they stopped Concorde operations in October 2003.
Question 19: How will Delta Golf be looked after at Brooklands?
This will be a ongoing effort and will be done by the large team of dedicated volunteers who have worked on restoring the aircraft since August 2004. Maintenance and repairs will be carried out on a regular basis and the aircraft will be cleaned externally twice a year both to keep DG looking as she should and to help keep the paintwork in good condition. Concorde Delta Golf is Brooklands Museum's prize exhibit and the staff and volunteers are determined to keep her in the best possible condition.
Ultimately the goal is to have DG protected from the elements by a purpose built structure. Funding for this will be achieved from a combination of fund raising and money from the National Lottery.
Question 20: What is the device on the underside of Delta Golf's wing that looks like a small propeller?!
This is the ram air turbine, also known as a 'RAT' (click here for a photo). This is a device used for generating emergency power for vital systems (flight controls, linked hydraulics and also flight-critical instrumentation). In the event of total engine failure during flight - something that never happened to Concorde! - the RAT would deploy automatically and the blades would spin in the airflow. The device is certainly not unique to Concorde. Indeed, most large aircraft (including all airliners) have a ram air turbine.
To have Delta Golf taken apart at Filton, transported to Brooklands and then re-assembled again and restored to its present condition cost the museum in the order of £500,000 - a very considerable sum for such a small organisation. It was a comparative risk for the museum to take but is one that is proving its worth with the numbers of visitors coming to the museum to see the aircraft. It is essential for the continued success of the museum that they earn back some of the money invested in Delta Golf and is hence why they charge a small extra fee on top of museum entry for entry to the aircraft.
Question 22: Finally, THE question - will any of the remaining Concordes ever fly again?
While it can be said that you should never say "never", it is safe to say that, unfortunately, it is extremely unlikely that a Concorde will ever fly again. This is due to many factors:
- Of the flight crews that flew the aircraft, those that didn't retire and are still actually flying no longer have a means to keep their licences current as the facilities required to re-certify them (i.e. - a CAA approved simulator) no longer exist.
- All spare parts were either scrapped or auctioned off when Concorde retired. Those that were auctioned off are no longer deemed to be airworthy since leaving the strict control of British Airways' and Air France's bonded stores and therefore could not be used. In addition, much of the infrastructure needed to make spares has gone and many of the hundreds of OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) that manufactured those parts and have design authority over them no longer exist.
- The facilities and equipment for servicing and repairing all parts of Concorde's airframe, engines and systems no longer exist.
- There are no longer any licensed engineers who would be able to a) return a Concorde to airworthy condition, or b) service/maintain the aircraft to keep it airworthy. This is because all the engineers who worked on Concorde over the years have now either re-trained on other aircraft types, or they have retired. Either way, their licences expired a short time after Concorde's retirement.
- Of the remaining Concordes, none are in flying condition anymore. Some of them were approaching major scheduled servicing prior to being retired and this would have to be carried out before the aircraft would be allowed fly again. However, such work would no longer be possible because of the factors outlined in the previous 3 paragraphs. There is also the fact that it is extremely unlikely that any of the museums who have a Concorde would be willing to give up their prize exhibit.
- It is often asked why many older aircraft types are still flying today but Concorde isn't. However, it must be taken into account that Concorde is an order of magnitude more complex both to maintain and to operate than aircraft such as a Spitfire, Lancaster or even a Vulcan which are all very basic in comparison. Concorde has scores of computer controlled systems and sensors that mean, unlike most heritage aircraft, it would be impossible for it to be maintained, operated and kept airworthy by a handful of enthusiasts with basic facilities.
- Some people may of heard stories of one of the Air France Concordes being kept serviceable. Unfortunately the word "serviceable" can be rather misleading. In this case it simply means that they have maintained some of the electrical and hydraulic systems to a sufficient extent that allows them to connect ground-power from the museum to the aircraft and do things like illuminate the cockpit instruments and move the droop nose up and down occasionally for museum visitors. Like all other remaining fleet Concordes, this one in France hasn't flown since 2003 and, in reality, is far from being in a position to do so.
- It could be argued that many of the issues listed above could be solved by money. However, how much money? Some people closely involved with Concorde have been quoted saying that £10-£15 million should be sufficient. This may well have been the case in 2003 but a long time has passed since the last flight and now that the Concorde support chain has been disbanded and the spares holding disposed of, the amount needed would be astronomical - possibly over £100 million.
There will no doubt be differing opinions on this but my view would be that spending such a vast amount of money would be totally unjustifiable just to get one aircraft airworthy for a handful of air shows a year - even if it is Concorde! It is also necessary to bear in mind that these figures just relate to the money needed to get a Concorde back into airworthy condition. The costs of on-going service/maintenance and flight operations would all be in addition to this.
- Concorde no longer has a Certificate of Airworthiness. This is a document issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and is a legal requirement for all civilian aircraft types before they are allowed to fly. Concorde's was withdrawn by the CAA soon after its final flight in 2003. For there to be any hope of Concorde's certificate being re-instated it would be essential to have the support of the manufacturer. Unfortunately, Concorde does not (see the following paragraph).
- And the real show-stopper - Concorde was originally manufactured by BAC of the UK and Aerospatialé of France who both later became part of the Airbus consortium. Unfortunately, Airbus have repeatedly stated they have no interest in participating in returning Concorde to the skies. Airbus was the key supplier in the Concorde operation. Not only did it build Concorde, it specified and controlled the maintenance programme and was the end supplier of the parts that made it fly. Without their support it doesn't make any difference how much money is made available - the whole idea literally is a non-starter.
All this makes for depressing reading for all Concorde fans and while most people would love to see her flying again (me included!), the sad truth is that you will now almost certainly only ever be able to enjoy Concorde in a museum.