G-BBDG (manufacturer's serial number 202, known as Delta Golf) was the British pre production Concorde built for evaluation testing. Along with the French Concorde F-WTSB, the aircraft was used to enable sufficient testing to allow for the Concorde fleet to receive certification. It was stored at Filton airfield from the mid-1980s until 2003, when it was transported by road to the Brooklands Museum in Weybridge, Surrey.
G-BBDG first flew on 13 February 1974, having been registered on 7 August the previous year. Its main uses were finalising the Concorde design before the other aircraft entered passenger service and certification prior to Concorde entering passenger service.
There were some differences between this aircraft and the final production aircraft, such as a thinner fuselage skin. The aircraft was painted in British Airways livery throughout its testing period. The aircraft flew a total of 1282 hrs 9 mins; its final flight was on 24 December 1981.
After the final flight, it was stored at Filton in a state of semi-airworthiness throughout 1982, where it could be returned to flight in two weeks if required. However this was never required and the aircraft was eventually bought by British Airways as part of a Concorde support buy-out in 1984.
The aircraft never entered service with British Airways; instead it was used as a major source of spare parts, allowing the airline to operate a fleet of seven aircraft. A hangar was constructed for it at Filton airfield in the late 1980s; its tail was removed prior to its being put in the hangar.
In 1995, Concorde G-BOAF had its nose damaged in a handling accident at Heathrow Airport. British Airways swapped this nose with the nose of the Filton Concorde. 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.
The aircraft was considered for scrapping many times, but was always found to be useful. In 2001, it was used to test reinforced cockpit doors required for all aircraft after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
When British Airways and Air France retired their fleets in 2003, Brooklands Museum at Weybridge in Surrey accepted the aircraft as a museum exhibit. It was dismantled as fully as possible and the rest was cut up into five major sections and transported by road to Brooklands Museum. The task of structurally disassembling and reassembling the aircraft was carried out by Air Salvage International (ASI). It was then restored by a team of over 100 volunteers from the museum, assisted by students from the University of Surrey.
After many years of being retired and placed in Brooklands, in 2014, Brooklands Museum tested the droop-nose of the Concorde mechanically (without using electricity and any control from the cockpit), the test was deemed a success and helped prove it was possible to activate the nose that hasn't been used for many years.
On the 23 July 2016, G-BBDG lowered its nose independently for the first time since its retirement, it was watched by a huge crowd including former captains and crew of the aircraft.
To this day, G-BBDG has been able to droop and raise its nose independently via the controls in its cockpit, and is drooped of only certain occasions in the Museum.
- Concorde Project (2011). "Concorde G-BBDG History". Concorde Project. Retrieved 5 April 2011.
- Heritage Concorde. "Concorde G-BBDG". Heritage Concorde. Retrieved 5 April 2011.
- Concorde. "Aircraft 202: G-BBDG". Concorde. Retrieved 5 April 2011.
- Concorde Project. "The Brooklands Concorde". Concorde Project. Retrieved 5 April 2011.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to G-BBDG (aircraft).|