Letter: Concorde is a white elephant

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The Independent Online
Sir: It is heartwarming and tear-jerking to see crocodiles of Americans and Japanese drop their cases at Heathrow to take snaps of Concorde. It is a very elegant, if slightly odd, aircraft. But it was, still is and always will be a commercial disaster: you can forget technological innovation, fly-by-wire and a test bed for the next generation of supersonic flight.

The original shareholders in its manufacture must have presumed that it was a commercial plane built for commercial profit. But rather like our canals, which never returned a dividend, or our railways, which likewise sapped the right-hand side of their profit-and- loss accounts for most of their 'privatised' lives, it has simply drained money away on a whim.

So will the Channel tunnel and the Birmingham toll road. We have to decide on a subject of international importance - to what extent should world resources be devoted to transport and what environmental impact should we allow? I remember the optimistic view that Saudi Arabia would put up with sonic booms so that Concorde flights to Australia might be possible; what came of that?

Yours sincerely,

COLIN STANDFIELD

London, W7

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