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George Edwards, 94; Aircraft Designer Key to Developing Concorde

March 10, 2003|From Staff and Wire Reports

Sir George Edwards, 94, a British Aircraft designer who helped develop the supersonic Concorde, died March 3 in London of natural causes.

Trained in engineering workshops, Edwards became a designer for Vickers-Armstrongs aircraft engine manufacturer in 1935. During World War II, he was experimental works manager, creating various military aircraft.

Edwards went on to design the Valiant, the first British nuclear bomber, and the Viscount, the world's first turboprop passenger airliner and the first British plane to become commercially successful in the U.S.

His turboprop engines proved the essential engineering link between piston-engine aircraft and jet planes, and greatly helped rebuild the British airplane manufacturing industry after the war.

Knighted in 1957, Edwards rose to managing director of Vickers-Armstrongs and of its successor company, British Aircraft, retiring as chairman in 1975.

He became adept at sales and politics, and in the 1970s helped persuade officials in both England and France to proceed with developing the Concorde. Although only 20 of the supersonic aircraft were built, the project is regarded as a major technical achievement.

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