|http://www.sina.com.cn 2003/04/28 10:20 北京青年报|
Air France and British Airways have announced that later this year they will retire all of their Concordes from commercial service. Don Wright's cartoon offers a wry comment on the supersonic aircraft, as notorious for their noise and guzzling of fuel as they are celebrated for their speed and ele-gance. The shrewder of the two birds watching the Concorde fly by likens it to a Tyrannosaurusrex, the favorite di-nosaur of countless little boys around the world. (In reality, by the way, few birds would sit gazing at the Concorde thundering past; the roar it makes at low altitudes would have them fleeing for their lives.)
For many Americans the Concorde has always been a bit of a joke, a prime example of what happens when bureaucrats pursue prestige through engineering. By the early 1960s US private firms were clearly ahead of Euro-pean jet makers. The governments of France and the UK launched a joint project to outdo the Americans at their own game,①by designing a supersonic jet that would re-store European technological preeminence. After years of experimentation at vast public expense, the Anglo-French designers had crafted an engineering wonder with little hope of ever turning a profit . Just as ominous for its future was its environmental impact - at a time when ordinary people were beginning to demand action to protect nature and human communities from industrial noise and pollution.There was never a market for the planes, which ulti-mately were given away to Air France and British Air-ways. These two state airlines have flown them at a loss (despite very high ticket prices), basically as a PR gim-mick.②But now concerns over the safety of the aging fleet, added to the usual red ink, are bringing this chapter in aviation history to a close.
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