The Concorde supersonic jet transport received its final federal administrative blessing for flights to 13 U.S. cities yesterday, more than two years after the noisy plane began passenger service on a trial basis to Dulles International Airport here.
Transportation Secretary Brock Adams, in announcing the action, said that local airports could, if they wished, adopt "reasonable non-discriminatory" noise rules that would keep Concorde out.
Further, he restricted his approval to the 16 Concordes that either have been built or are under construction. He forbade Concorde from flying at supersonic speeds and thus creating sonic booms over any part of the United States, and he continued a curfew on Concorde flights between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Air France and British Airways, the only two airlines in the world operating the joint Anglo-French craft, are presently flying a weekly total of 17 round trips to New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport and six round trips to Dulles.
Adam's final rule opens 11 more airports to Concorde: Anchorage, Boston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago O'Hare, Houston, Honolulu, Los Angeles International, Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Seattle-Tacoma.
Of those, Dallas-Fort Worth appears most likely to receive Concorde service. Braniff International has received Civil Aeronautics Board approval to operate Concorde subsonically between Dallas and Washington. The same plane would then go on to London and Paris as either an Air France or a British Airways flight.
Boston, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles have all adopted noise rules that would appear to preclude Concorde operations. None of those rules has been challenged in court.
Both Air France and British Airways said they had no immediate plans to expand current Concorde operations at either New York or Washington.
Alan Sagner, chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates Kennedy Airport, attacked Adams' decision. "The Port Authority's position is that the federal government has the responsibility to make our skies quiter and not noiser, and the newly announced regulations' obviously are not related to that goal," he said.
Sagner also said he was surprised that Adams adopted the rule before a 16-month test at Kennedy was completed, as has been done at Dulles Concorde flights to Kennedy started last November. By the end of May, there had been more than 1,700 phone complaints about Concordes and 2,500 complaints about other planes. In a typical month at Kennedy, the concorde represents less than one-half of one percent of all flights.
Fairfax County Supervisor Martha V. Pennino (D-Centreville), who was among the leading Concorde opponents in this area, called Adams' rule "very sad." However, she said, "In all honesty, since the plane has been flying in and out of Dulles, I've only had two complaints . . ." Concorde inaugurated service to Dulles on May 24, 1976.
No noise rule banning Concorde from Dulles will be written by the Department of Transportation, which owns the airport, a spokesman said.
Adams also said that any supersonic planes beyond the 16 Concordes would hav to meet the noise standards set for subsonic planes in 1969. That has been a point of contention with the Environmental Protection Agency, which wants the Concorde held to stricter subsonic noise standards applied in 1975.
Yesterday's rule is effective July 31. After that date the Federal Aviation Administration is authorized to approve Concorde operations into any of the 13 airports, up to a limit for each.
The maximum at one airport would be 32 takes off and landings at Kennedy, but theat assumes all 16 Concordes flying into Kennedy, as unlikely event.
Air France and British Airways are both losing money on the Concorde service because their nine planes are being flown only half the time they are available. British Airways has been selling about 60 percent of 75 of it seats to London from here, and 75 percent of those from New York.Air France has been averaging 33 percent from Washington and 80 percent from New York.
A round-trip Concorde flight between Washington and London costs $1,760, or about twice the regular coach fare. The Concorde cuts the eight-four flight time in half.