David Henderson
The Role of Business in the Modern World

Those most closely involved with the development of the Concorde believed, with reason, that they and their organisations were making history. They saw the successful construction, proving and entry into service of the first supersonic civil transport aircraft as bringing about a spectacular technical advance and an array of associated benefits to air travellers everywhere, to the aircraft industries of France and Britain, and to the national economies and international standing of both countries. This vision no doubt gave an extra edge to the professional satisfactions derived from meeting the formidable technical challenges that the programme offered. It might be hard to find a more wholesome set of motives entering into the conduct and completion of a would-be commercial investment project.

Yet the end result of the huge expenditures on research, development and production was a true white elephant—a machine which no airline in the world, given a free choice, would have been prepared to accept, operate and maintain even if offered to it as a gift. The dominant outcome of the programme was to make people in France and Britain poorer.

  The World was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide:
They, hand in hand, with wand'ring steps and slow,

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Through Eden took their solitary way.