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British Airways A318: Another End to ‘Speedbird 1’

A British Airways Concorde departing London’s Heathrow Airport. Photo: British Airways

A One of a Kind Aircraft

BA1 was BA’s and Concorde’s flagship flight. Departing at 10.30 am from LHR each weekday morning and arriving into New York around 8.30 am the same day.

It was the aircraft everyone wanted to fly on, and the aircraft almost every pilot wishes they had the chance to fly. Reaching speeds of twice the speed of sound (Mach 2.0) and flying higher than any other commercial aircraft (60,000ft), Concorde was in a class of its own.

British Airways was the first airline in the world to take delivery of the specially modified A318 with “steep approach” capability enabling it to land and take off at steeper than usual gradients, like those at London City airport. The aircraft are specially equipped to allow customers to work during the flight on email, the internet, and text on their mobile phones, making British Airways the first carrier across the Atlantic to offer this service. Photo: British Airways.


The iconic ‘Speedbird 1’ callsign was assigned to their quirky little A318 aircraft since its introduction to the BA fleet in 2009. BA had a total of two in the fleet, and they operated differently from the rest.

British Airways’ A318 aircraft were unique to the company in that they comprised an all-business class configuration. The types offered 32 flatbed seats from the heart of London, and BA01 had a new look with a difference; it needed a light load.

London City Airport. Photo: Frans Zwart (GFDL 1.2

MIAMI- ‘Speedbird Concorde 1’, a callsign that is recognized throughout global aviation. Over the years, it has been associated with British Airways (BA) and its Concorde service to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) from London Heathrow (LHR).

According to, The “Speedbird” call sign comes from BOAC, which inherited it from Imperial Airways. It was the name for the airline’s emblem, which has now ended up being the BA logo, known as the ‘Speedmarque’, after several iterations.

Until its retirement in 2003, Concorde was such a unique aircraft that it had its name appended to the normal read more ⇒

Source:: “Airways Magazine”

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