How It Works

Could Concorde ever have pulled off a barrel roll?


Yes, apparently. A barrel roll is a manoeuvre whereby an aeroplane makes a complete corkscrew-like rotation around its horizontal line of travel, while maintaining a roughly constant direction. An important consideration before performing any type of aerial acrobatics is the amount of g-force that will be exerted on the aircraft. G-force isn’t strictly a force – it’s a measure of acceleration per unit mass, with one unit of g taking the value of 9.8 metres (32.2 feet) per square second per kilogram of mass (the same acceleration produced by gravity at Earth’s surface). When going around a tight corner in a car, you can feel the g-force pushing you sideways. Concorde – like most commercial aircraft – was built to withstand around 2.5 g. Barrel rolls exert approximately 1-1.5 g on an aeroplane when done correctly. Pilots Jean Franchi and Brian Walpole reportedly performed barrel rolls in Concorde during test flights, but never with passengers on board.

Answered by Rik Sargent.