"The Concorde story" is a fine testimony to management and professionalism of dedicated people like the author, involved in the day to day operation of this magnificent aeroplane. In fact this colourful book is an exhaustive description of the only supersonic commercial aircraft in airline service, seeing a lenghty duty in British airways and Air France livery.
It is clear that the program economical success was impeded by the oil crises of the early 70s and by the subsequent worldwide economic recession, but quietly the few ships built (16 in total) reached two important goals. First, their airline service was a keystone in proving that supersonic travel was technically and economically viable, despite the limits of preceding technological know-how and enviromental impact. Second, the fleet has demonstrated that producing an operating profit was financially feasible by careful industrial and commercial in-house resources, once the development costs were written off (and still it is, despite the notorious Paris crash). All these aspects are thoroughly narrated by Cpt Orlebar, telling the story behind the initial difficult steps and the progressive achivements in airline service. Very nice and objective is the chapter related to the competitors, since it shows how bad management (US SST program) and a technically trouble prone design ( Soviet Tupolev TU 144 SST ) failed to promote a challenger to the British and French enterprise ( and to make the supersonic technological race more interesting for everyone, just look at the current state of the art in the field: Aerospatiale AGV, Alliance ATSF, Dassault and Gulfstream SSJB, DARPA QSP, just to quote the most famous research studies). The best facets of the volume are the operations of a typical flight London-New York from the pilot point of view, the specifications and data of this flying marvel, and finally nice illustrations of powerplant layout, intake matching schedule, plane cutaway drawing, flight envelope chart.
The author provides a rare insight into the technical and professional endeavor of Concorde service and mantainance, giving a clear picture of high quality standard in training and duty of pilots and technicians, undoubtedly required to operate this beautiful airliner.