Time was that travellers driving to Heathrow were greeted with the sleekly moulded contours of a model Concorde as they drove past the airport’s entrance roundabout, a sight rich with the promise of airborne dreams and the supersonic age.
Sadly the 2000 crash-landing and post-9/11 penny pinching by joint operators British Airways and Air France meant the costly jet was soon sacrificed, with the remaining craft grounded in 2003 and sent to museums (including one that had a trip up the Thames for its troubles). The Heathrow roundabout model was also deemed persona non grata and swiftly removed.
However, airlines are never knowingly slow to shore up a marketing scheme, and the prime advertising spot has been filled by Emirates with a model of a far less aspirational, yet more pragmatic, aircraft: the Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger jet, and a more appropriate symbol of 21st century eco-consciousness. The A380 can carry up to five times as many passengers, and uses 3 litres of fuel per person per 100km, compared to Concorde’s 20 litres.
It’s a far more efficient jet for the needs of modern life, where moving hundreds of people efficiently counts for more than Concorde’s supersonic luxury and the “feat” of transporting Phil Collins between London and Philadelphia for Live Aid.