The supersonic Concorde jetliner's first flight 40 years ago today was not only a historic date for aviation, it also marked a key milestone in a programme that helped pave the way for Airbus' subsequent success in the worldwide civil airliner marketplace.
On 2 March 1969, the no. 1 Concorde prototype lifted off from Toulouse, France, initiating a test and certification effort that led to 27 years of commercial service with this delta-wing aircraft.
In addition setting new standards for performance - providing scheduled passenger service at twice the speed of sound - Concorde demonstrated Europe's capability to apply leading-edge technology in the production of commercial jetliners. It also validated the capacity of European nations to work together in cross-border projects, with each contributing their expertise in aviation design, development and production.
Technologies that evolved from the Concorde for later use in Airbus aircraft include fly-by-wire flight controls, full-regime autopilot and autothrottle for flight management, high-pressure hydraulics, and the use of advanced manufacturing techniques.
Concorde earned its well-deserved place in aviation history, and the pioneering spirit of this remarkable aircraft lives on in each and every Airbus jetliner.
The design, development and production of Concorde, along with its historic 1969 first flight, is reviewed in a retrospective video clip