How Concordes Work

By: Craig Freudenrich, Ph.D.

The Concorde vs. Other Passenger Jets

The Concorde flew faster and higher than most commercial jets. For example, a Boeing 747 aircraft cruises at about 560 mph (901 kph, or Mach 0.84) at an altitude of 35,000 ft (10,675 m). In contrast, the Concorde could cruise at 1,350 mph (2,172 kph, or Mach 2) at an altitude of 60,000 ft (18,300 m). Because the Concorde traveled faster than the speed of sound and almost twice as high as other commercial jets, it had several features that set it apart from other aircraft:

Streamlined design

  • Needle-like fuselage
  • Swept-back delta wing
  • Moveable nose
  • Vertical tail design

Engine design

Main and auxiliary fuel tanks

High-reflectivity paint

Structural diagram of a Concorde

Move your mouse over the color options to see where each component is located on the Concorde.

Let's look at these features in detail.