According to the Concorde Flying Manual Volume II(a) - 1 Operating Limitations - page 01.01.02 the take-off and landing airfield altitude is minimum -1000 ft and maximum 8000 ft. Why is Concorde limited to a maximum airfield altitude of 8000 ft, excluding Concorde from airfields like El Alto International at 13,323 ft?

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My initial thoughts were either maximum braking action limitations for rejected take-off or maximum tire speeds, but unfortunately the manuals linked above do not mention max tire speed or brake energy limits.

Update: As @gwally pointed out, Concorde did fly to Bogotá, Colombia with an airfield elevation of 8363 ft two times, in 1974 and 1975. So it seems the 8000 ft maximum airfield elevation seem to be a certification limit or operational limit, and not a performance limit of Concorde.

  • $\begingroup$ There was no need to serve high altitude airports. The ideal Concorde routes were between harbour cities with only ocean in between. Why engineer something that will not be needed? $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 12:43
  • $\begingroup$ Concorde had extremely bad low speed performance (high drag and low lift) as a consequence of it being optimized for supercuise. To the point they needed the extra thrust from the afterburners even at low altitude runways. It may be that there just wasn't enough thrust and/or lift above 8000ft. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 12:54
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    $\begingroup$ @PeterKämpf I would probably agree if you said why certify something that will not be needed, but that is exactly my question, is there a technical limitation why Concorde can't operate form high altitude airfields or did they simply not bother to certify it. $\endgroup$
    – wowpatrick
    Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 14:26
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    $\begingroup$ Current day limitations on some airplanes: B744 - max field elevation 9500ft; B787-8 -14000ft PA, use high alt procs above 8000; B777-300ER - Max T/o and Landing - 8400PA $\endgroup$
    – skipper44
    Commented Jan 26, 2021 at 4:43
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    $\begingroup$ @jay613 I get your point - but I thought it might be the case that someone would have access to additional manuals/documentation in which things like max tire speed, max breaking action or other limits may be mentioned that would explain why Concorde was limited to 8000 ft. But it could also be the case that the question can only be answered by a designer. $\endgroup$
    – wowpatrick
    Commented Jan 26, 2021 at 14:10

1 Answer 1


Air France Flew to Mexico City

Edit: Concorde can take off and land above 8,000 ft

From October 20-28, 1974, Concorde 02 (F-WTSA) made a tour of the American Pacific coast, visiting London (83 ft), Gander (495 ft), Mexico City (7,316 ft), San Francisco (13 ft), Anchorage (151 ft), Los Angeles (125 ft), Lima (112 ft), Bogotá (8,710 ft), Caracas (236 ft), Las Palmas (78 ft) and Paris (392 ft).

El Dorado International Airport - BOG (Bogotá) has an elevation of 8,710 ft (2,648 m), which puts in 710 feet above the limit of the 8,000 ft maximum altitude. Both runways are 12,467 ft (3,800 m), so capable of handling a take-off.

In addition, Air France flew Concorde twice weekly to Mexico City's Benito Juárez International Airport - MEX (Elevation AMSL 7,316 ft / 2,230 m) via Washington, DC, or New York City, from September 1978 to November 1982.http://www.concordesst.com/history/70s.html

This shows that Concorde was able to schedule regular service to an airport 684 ft lower than the 8,000 ft maximum altitude and visit an airport above 8,000 ft.

I am not sure the 8,000 ft is a hard maximum elevation. It could be for a fully loaded plane. I have not seen any chart to show maximum take-off weight at any altitude.

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    $\begingroup$ I would argue quite valid - if it is certified up to 8000 ft. elevation, I see no reason why it would not be used up to that threshold. I mean it is the same with other limits as well, TOM probably being the one that is most often close or to equal to MTOM. Nice postcard BTW! $\endgroup$
    – wowpatrick
    Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 17:21
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    $\begingroup$ @wowpatrick I second that. 8000ft take-off ceiling means among others that 7316ft is allowed. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 19:25
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    $\begingroup$ It's quite likely that the engineers chose to design for an 8000ft limit because they knew they wanted the plane to fly to Mexico City. In any case, this doesn't answer the question which is "why"? (Presumably "why was it not higher"?) $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 19:40
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    $\begingroup$ Why is this downvoted to -3? Is anyone downvoting also explaining why in a comment? $\endgroup$
    – zymhan
    Commented Jan 27, 2021 at 18:56
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    $\begingroup$ Agree with @zymhan - this shows good background research $\endgroup$
    – nodapic
    Commented Jan 27, 2021 at 19:31

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