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Pieces of Concorde put up at auction

first_imgPARIS – OK, so it won’t fit on the mantelpiece, but imagine how it will impress your friends. A 1.2-ton-landing gear from the Concorde and a Mach-monitoring speedometer are perhaps the standout pieces on sale at a four-day auction in France of hundreds of spare parts from the now-defunct supersonic jet. The auction got off to a bumpy start Friday, as organizers quickly pulled five smoke detectors out of the sale amid concerns about radiation risk. Aerospace buffs were unfazed. The first item to go among the 835 lots was a Concorde filling valve, which sold for $638, more than double the pre-auction estimate. Americium-241 is a byproduct of decayed plutonium, and is commonly thought to be lethal when ingested. It is a main component of many home smoke detectors, acting as a sort of conductor that sets off an alarm when disrupted by smoke. Also conspicuously absent from the auction will be the Concorde’s trademark needle nose. Three of them were auctioned in London and Paris in 2003 and 2004 – the first of which went for more than a half-million dollars. The auction in the southwestern city of Toulouse, home to plane maker Airbus and its predecessor company behind the Concorde, has been organized by a group of former engineers and executives. Proceeds will go toward a planned airplane museum and park in Toulouse. Airbus sold the parts – half of which are new – in 2003 to the nonprofit Aerotheque association for the symbolic sum of one Euro, about $1.40 at today’s rates. The auction is expected to reap about $337,000. Most items have been valued at between $70 and $425. Orders will also be taken by phone. The nose landing gear, 12.5 feet in height and sold with its wooden box, and the main landing gear are both valued between $2,800 and $4,200. The “machmeter,” which displayed the plane’s speed for passengers, is pegged at $2,100 to $3,545. They go up today. None of the items has a reserve price, meaning that they will be sold to the highest bidder no matter what the catalog price, according to the auction Web site. The Concorde made its maiden voyage in 1969, but was retired in 2003 amid ballooning costs and sagging ticket sales after a crash in 2000 that killed 113 people. The plane was commercialized by Air France and British Airways. Associated Press Writer Audrey Sommazi in Toulouse, France, contributed to this report.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Cockpit gauges, including air speed indicators and horizontal situation indicators, are being sold along with lower-tech items such as a cabin oven, plate-and-silverware sets, and even a Concorde toilet seat. “This sale is aimed at two types of buyers: collectors who are crazy about the Concorde, but also nostalgic people looking for a last souvenir of the supersonic jet,” said auctioneer Marc Labarbe. The pieces “aren’t just mechanical parts, they also have an aesthetic dimension – all while bearing one of the best trademarks: Concorde,” he added. Labarbe said the five smoke detectors were withdrawn from the auction because they were “contentious” – suggesting there could be liability issues involved – though he did not elaborate. Earlier, environmental group Robin des Bois (French for Robin Hood), called it “scandalous” that the smoke detectors were included in the catalog, saying in a statement that “without a doubt” the detectors contained Americium-241 or other toxic radioactive elements. last_img read more