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Powering up G-BOAD - Could it ever be done?


Fredric Greenblott

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Fredric Greenblott

I've been thinking, and this is just a theory: There are two Concordes that reside in the United States. Alpha Golf is in Seattle, and Alpha Delta is at the Intrepid museum. There are so many people that visit AD as it's in New York City and it is one of the highlights of the Intrepid museum and of New York in general.

It is obvious that AD won't fly again, as her engines were removed and her hydraulic system was completely drained. However as far as I know, the GPU connector is still intact. With a generator, proper know-how and with the museum's permission, of course, we could very well restore ground power to AD. I took a tour of AD this summer, and her cockpit circuit boards are still intact and all her electrical connection boxes in the cockpit all seem to be in place, so all we need is the generator and the permission of the museum. However, we could ALSO do what we did with G-AXDN and hook her up to an external hydraulic pump and raise/lower her nose. That would most likely not happen as AD has been sitting near the ocean and the damp, humid air has most likely corroded most of her moving parts. It would most likely be more cost-effective if only ground power were connected and the nose wasn't lowered. 

 

Could it be feasible?

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Fredric Greenblott
Just now, petakas said:

... and who would "we" be ?

"We" being anyone who knows a lot about the technical specs and requirements of Concorde, and any engineers that would like to help. I like to refer to the Concorde engineers and technical geeks by "we". As in we're all in this together to maintain Concorde's heritage! ;)

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Fraser Gale

G-BOAC was powered up several times a few years ago before (it is thought) BA and the museum put a stop to it. It proved that she was in quite good shape electrically speaking, however it must be remembered that 'AD has been out in the open all these years next to water probably causing corrosion on contacts etc. 

It is possible but highly unlikely - blow one transistor on a circuit board and it probably can't be replaced meaning degradation of a highly important historical artefact. 

The "black box" that controls the power from the GPU socket will have been removed from the racking on the right side of the flight deck tunnel and either stored remotely or on board somewhere - I think they found it in the rear hold on 'AC. There is also the possibility that this control unit won't work meaning no ground power could be put onto the aircraft.  All busbars would have to be checked for integrity and all electrical areas cleaned (by vacuum cleaner!) to minimise dust etc. 

The powerup would have to be carefully controlled by tripping all but master circuit breakers initially then testing systems one by one.

To do what has been done to AXDN would require changing some internal components and electrical circuits which, personally speaking, I think should be left the way they are. 

I'd to see ground power on them all to make them look and feel like they are alive but it would require qualified people and a lot of care, the last thing we want is one going on fire because of a badly handled powerup. 

Like all things with the sleeping swan, technically possible yet highly unlikely.

Frazz

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Fredric Greenblott
40 minutes ago, Frazz said:

G-BOAC was powered up several times a few years ago before (it is thought) BA and the museum put a stop to it. It proved that she was in quite good shape electrically speaking, however it must be remembered that 'AD has been out in the open all these years next to water probably causing corrosion on contacts etc. 

It is possible but highly unlikely - blow one transistor on a circuit board and it probably can't be replaced meaning degradation of a highly important historical artefact. 

The "black box" that controls the power from the GPU socket will have been removed from the racking on the right side of the flight deck tunnel and either stored remotely or on board somewhere - I think they found it in the rear hold on 'AC. There is also the possibility that this control unit won't work meaning no ground power could be put onto the aircraft.  All busbars would have to be checked for integrity and all electrical areas cleaned (by vacuum cleaner!) to minimise dust etc. 

The powerup would have to be carefully controlled by tripping all but master circuit breakers initially then testing systems one by one.

To do what has been done to AXDN would require changing some internal components and electrical circuits which, personally speaking, I think should be left the way they are. 

I'd to see ground power on them all to make them look and feel like they are alive but it would require qualified people and a lot of care, the last thing we want is one going on fire because of a badly handled powerup. 

Like all things with the sleeping swan, technically possible yet highly unlikely.

Frazz

Yes, like I said, it's just a theoretical question. It will have to be done very carefully in order to apply power. While it is true the GPU connection unit on BOAD is intact, but like you said, there could be corrosion and the busbars checked and vacuumed so it may not be possible without extremely delicate handling. And we don't know where the GPU control unit is, so we'd have to search on board. BOAG would most likely be a better choice since she is stored indoors and I know that the GPU control unit is indeed stored in the rear aft hold in AG. 

 

Many people think it would be easy to power up the Concordes when they look at BTSD as she is powered up on a regular basis, her nose moved and her flight controls moved. However BTSD has a genuine team belonging to her and take care of her... It would be difficult for the BA Concordes in the United States even though they're outside UK Jurisdiction. It could be done... But it would require time and lots of it.

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Fraser Gale

Alpha Golf has only just gone under cover so I'm not convinced she would be in better shape sadly. 

I think it's more likely that a UK based airframe would have a chance of being powered, purely because most of the expertise are over here. The other thing is, once you have power on, what are you going to do with it? 

The lights will work etc but really once you start you would want to be able to make things move (eg nose and visor) which then means dealing with dried out hydraulics and a very limited supply of M2V fluid. Plus, any powerup when visitors or public are around would need insurance which is a cost and you would always need a qualified person there to do it. All a little tricky. 

You couldn't even legally have a radio tuned in to listen to ATC because she would be capable of transmitting and her radio wouldn't be licensed I don't think.

When they did it in Manchester, after a few days of powering most of the systems came back to life - probably due to the wires heating up and drying out etc and even intake computers and one of the two flying control inverters were working fine. They were about to apply hydraulics using the ground "check-out" pumps (the one they needed had stopped working incidentally) when they were ordered to stop. 

BTSD is a special case because she has never been powered down for longer than a week from what I'm told. Although from what I hear they might be running low on M2V fluid for the hydraulics now too. 

Please understand I'm trying not to be pessimistic, but at the end of the day BA still own their aircraft and I don't think they will allow it. 

Frazz

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Fraser Gale

Incidentally, I like to call the former pilots, flight engineers and ground engineers the experts, and the rest of us "we". Only the experts should be involved in such a venture, perhaps with funding and encouragement from the rest of us.

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Fredric Greenblott
15 minutes ago, Frazz said:

Alpha Golf has only just gone under cover so I'm not convinced she would be in better shape sadly. 

I think it's more likely that a UK based airframe would have a chance of being powered, purely because most of the expertise are over here. The other thing is, once you have power on, what are you going to do with it? 

The lights will work etc but really once you start you would want to be able to make things move (eg nose and visor) which then means dealing with dried out hydraulics and a very limited supply of M2V fluid. Plus, any powerup when visitors or public are around would need insurance which is a cost and you would always need a qualified person there to do it. All a little tricky. 

You couldn't even legally have a radio tuned in to listen to ATC because she would be capable of transmitting and her radio wouldn't be licensed I don't think.

When they did it in Manchester, after a few days of powering most of the systems came back to life - probably due to the wires heating up and drying out etc and even intake computers and one of the two flying control inverters were working fine. They were about to apply hydraulics using the ground "check-out" pumps (the one they needed had stopped working incidentally) when they were ordered to stop. 

BTSD is a special case because she has never been powered down for longer than a week from what I'm told. Although from what I hear they might be running low on M2V fluid for the hydraulics now too. 

Please understand I'm trying not to be pessimistic, but at the end of the day BA still own their aircraft and I don't think they will allow it. 

Frazz

No, you're not sounding pessimistic. While it is true that BTSD is powered up several times a month, if you watch one of the power-up videos, you can clearly hear what sounds like the Le Bourget ATIS coming out of the cockpit speakers. Not sure if it's just the pre recorded audio for tours but it sounds awfully similar. They have even tested the INS units on BTSD and they are working. In fact, more than 95% of SD's systems are working. They test the nose, elevons, rudder, test the avionics, and they even test the secondary air doors and intake ramp movement. I've even heard they started to test reverser deployment recently. No wonder SD is the leading candidate for Club Concorde's return to flight programme! ;)

I'm not sure they're running out of M2V. It's true that they still have some inside SD's blue system (you can see in videos that when they power her up, they move the hydraulic selector to the blue tank) to power her hydraulics, but as long as there's M2V in that airtight environment, they should be fine. 

Airbus seems to be fine with SD being powered up this frequently, as they hold the type certificate. They haven't prohibited Le Bourget from doing it. And the boroscopes that were placed into the engines back in 2012 confirmed the engines looked good. In fact, the engineers who power her up today say that if they were legally allowed to, they could start her engines and taxi her around! ;) 

But yeah, not sure if any of the BA/UK Concordes will be powered up again... Sure, AXDN is powered up a couple times a year, but she uses an external hydraulic pack. BBDG recently got her hydraulics restored as well, she can actually droop her nose, but the Brooklands team don't actually flip the ground power switch... To be honest I don't know what they do :P

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Fraser Gale

I am aware of all the things you said above although I don't think they would be able to move the reverse buckets on BTSD unless they do it manually, as the system used bleed air from the P3 position to actuate a very fast Garrett motor which pushed or pulled the buckets into position. Without engines running you can't have the air so they would need to re-engineer the system. 

As I said, BTSD is a special case and has nothing to do with Airbus - the fact is that Air France relinquished ownership of their Concorde's so the museum can do what they want with it as long as it doesn't need a license. Airbus cancelled the type certificate so they have no affiliation with her. The French authorities are probably less worried about her having her radios tuned in, plus they probably don't know! 

The boroscope session that you see being done on YouTube etc was good for publicity and I know things looked good but remember that only looked at certain compressor sections and staters - to run one of these engines would need a full strip and re-build to do it SAFELY - yes I believe they would run right now because they were extremely well built in the first place but more damage could be done if this was to happen. 

There is a reason that they only keep one hydraulic system filled - lack of M2V reserves. The system is not air tight as you say, it was famous for leaking all over the place and in fact was always considered to be the weakest element in the aircraft. Although good at doing it's job, the hydraulic system was prone to leaks and fluid transfers that could rapidly mean instead of having 3 working systems you could be left with one, requiring a deceleration and descent to M0.95 and this would probably lead to a diversion because your range is significantly reduced. 

Things like the INS working are great but do they enhance the visitor eperience enough to justify the risk?  All you would be able to do with them is input the current Lat/Long and have it displayed. They don't even have the INS working on the BA simulator and they still "fly" that around. 

Frazz

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Fredric Greenblott
3 hours ago, Frazz said:

I am aware of all the things you said above although I don't think they would be able to move the reverse buckets on BTSD unless they do it manually, as the system used bleed air from the P3 position to actuate a very fast Garrett motor which pushed or pulled the buckets into position. Without engines running you can't have the air so they would need to re-engineer the system. 

As I said, BTSD is a special case and has nothing to do with Airbus - the fact is that Air France relinquished ownership of their Concorde's so the museum can do what they want with it as long as it doesn't need a license. Airbus cancelled the type certificate so they have no affiliation with her. The French authorities are probably less worried about her having her radios tuned in, plus they probably don't know! 

The boroscope session that you see being done on YouTube etc was good for publicity and I know things looked good but remember that only looked at certain compressor sections and staters - to run one of these engines would need a full strip and re-build to do it SAFELY - yes I believe they would run right now because they were extremely well built in the first place but more damage could be done if this was to happen. 

There is a reason that they only keep one hydraulic system filled - lack of M2V reserves. The system is not air tight as you say, it was famous for leaking all over the place and in fact was always considered to be the weakest element in the aircraft. Although good at doing it's job, the hydraulic system was prone to leaks and fluid transfers that could rapidly mean instead of having 3 working systems you could be left with one, requiring a deceleration and descent to M0.95 and this would probably lead to a diversion because your range is significantly reduced. 

Things like the INS working are great but do they enhance the visitor eperience enough to justify the risk?  All you would be able to do with them is input the current Lat/Long and have it displayed. They don't even have the INS working on the BA simulator and they still "fly" that around. 

Frazz

Yes, they moved the buckets manually. They moved them to test hinges and check the air bleed system that runs to the reversers - Not an actual test, but to check integrity of the system.

Apparently, Club Concorde with all their buzz about getting one airborne in 2019 has £180 million laying around, so they could easily fund engine strip-down and repair, and maybe even fund a D-check, with the museum's permission. 

I think the team at Le Bourget does a good job with maintaining the blue system's integrity so they don't lose any precious M2V reserves that are still in the tank. 

Yes, they do power up the INS units as well. As far as I know, Le Bourget is offering some new kind of tour taking place on BTSD's power up days, letting visitors come on board SD and into the cockpit during the power up - They are briefed on what not to touch and they go up - They let visitors drop the nose and the technicians turn on the INS units, punch in their coordinates, and align the ADI/ADC's and avionics for the ultimate experience. The visitors even get to flip the landing lights and gently move the control surfaces. I for one would love to go on that tour if I ever go to France... ;)

 

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Fraser Gale

Even with the best care the hydraulic system will leak. They might collect the fluid and re-instate it although after time it will contaminate and become unusable. That's one of the reasons that Brooklands and Duxford are using a semi-external system that is local only to the nose and visor. The only place you can get leaks is at the actuators whereas with a whole system functioning there are lots of places that leaks will occur.

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Fredric Greenblott
5 hours ago, Frazz said:

Even with the best care the hydraulic system will leak. They might collect the fluid and re-instate it although after time it will contaminate and become unusable. That's one of the reasons that Brooklands and Duxford are using a semi-external system that is local only to the nose and visor. The only place you can get leaks is at the actuators whereas with a whole system functioning there are lots of places that leaks will occur.

True. I believe that they can use some of the M2V in SD and "reverse engineer" it to make more, so they could fill the green and yellow systems as well. If that happens, she could literally be in flyable condition... Provided a D-check would be carried out. She really is in that good of condition.

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