122. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Proposed U.S. Airworthiness Certification of the Concorde


  • Mr. Frank E. Loy, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation and Telecommunications
  • Mr. Charles O. Cary, Assistant Administrator, International Aviation Affairs, FAA
  • Mr. George S. Moore, Director, Flight Standards Service, Federal Aviation Agency
  • Mr. Richard S. Sliff, Assistant Chief, Engineering and Manufacturing Division, FAA
  • Mr. Hobart Luppi, Aviation Liaison Division, Department of State
  • Mr. J. Bruce Amstutz, Aviation Liaison Division, Department of State

The meeting was held at the Federal Aviation Agency on October 8, 1965, at the request of Mr. Loy for the purpose of discussing the [Page 223] problems involved in issuing a United States airworthiness certificate on the Concorde.

Mr. Loy referred to FAA Administrator McKee’s letter of September 22, 1965, addressed to Under Secretary Mann, in which problems associated with type certification of the Concorde were briefly discussed.2 Mr. Loy said he was particularly concerned that, in order to minimize possible political repercussions, the British and the French be quickly and fully informed of any perceived deficiencies in the Concorde which might possibly prevent issuance of a United States type certification.

The FAA group explained that the Concorde represented a substantial advance in design and technology over the existing generation of aircraft and therefore new airworthiness standards had to be drafted for this aircraft. The FAA was in this regard concerned solely with safety and was worried about certain features of the Concorde such as cockpit visibility and design.

The FAA group further explained that on the basis of the information it had available it probably would not be able to issue an airworthiness (Type) certificate for the Concorde unless some substantial changes were made on the aircraft. The refusal of the US to certificate the Concorde would not represent a violation of the US–UK bilateral airworthiness air agreement, for the agreement accorded wide latitude to the parties in the certification of each other’s civil aircraft. Furthermore, should the United Kingdom and France certificate the plane, the United States would not stop it from being operated by foreign air carriers to and from the United States. The refusal of the FAA to grant a United States certificate would only affect use of the Concorde by US carriers. However, in view of the probable limited world market for the Concorde (only 50 have been ordered on option, 21 by US carriers) a refusal by the US to issue an airworthiness certificate could very well cripple the Concorde program.

The Anglo-French SST people are generally aware of the areas where the FAA is having problems regarding the Concorde. They know this from the two tripartite technical SST meetings which have been held. (These tripartite meetings are referred to as FAUSST meetings; “FAUSST” stands for French-Anglo-US meeting on SST airworthiness standards.) Moreover, the FAA has already issued two SST airworthiness standards publications: the “Red Book” of 1961, and the “Blue Book” of 1963. By early November, the FAA expects to issue its latest version which would be called the “White Book.” It is FAA’s intention to send copies of the “White Book” to the British and French.

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Also, in November, the FAA team responsible for certification is to tour UK and French SST facilities, after which the FAA should have a better understanding of Concorde characteristics which might make United States certification difficult. The FAA is to meet with the UK and France at FAUSST meetings in December 1965 and February 1966, and an Anglo-French team will be coming to the US in March to submit an application to the FAA for a preliminary type certificate. It is FAA’s thinking that sometime after the February 1966 FAUSST meeting, the FAA should officially inform the UK and France of our reservations, perhaps by means of a letter from George S. Moore (FAA) to his UK and French counterparts.

Mr. Loy requested that, after the FAA team returns from Europe in November, the FAA inform us promptly of its views so we can determine how this matter should be brought to the attention of the UK and France. Any airworthiness standards set by the FAA which would restrict use of the Concorde by US airlines would be bound to have undesirable political effects. It is imperative, therefore, that we officially inform the UK and France at the earliest feasible moment of any difficulties foreseen by the FAA. The FAA said it would be in touch with the Department upon the group’s return.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Central Files, 1964–66, AV 12. Limited Official Use. Drafted by Amstutz and Luppi. Copies were sent to J. Starkey (BNA), Beigel (WE), Leddy (EUR), and A. Caswell (E).
  2. Not printed. (Ibid.)