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Concorde Crash Investigation Will "Take A Long Tim

Fri Sep 01, 2000 9:06 pm

Sep 1, 2000

At a news conference today, French Air Accident Investigation Bureau (BEA) officials showed a photograph of the 43-centimetre (17-inch) strip of metal from the Paris runway which may have punctured the tire of the doomed Air France Concorde supersonic jet.

The BEA confirmed that the investigation remains focused on the burst tire triggering a chain of events that brought down the plane but said it would take a long time before the full underlying cause of the crash were discovered.

All 109 passengers and crew, and four people on the ground, were killed when the New York-bound jet crashed into a hotel in Gonesse on the outskirts of Paris in July.

The BEA said at least one fuel tank was ruptured in one or more places, resulting in a substantial fuel leak.

This, it says, resulted in a "very violent fire" within a few seconds of the tire blowout, and thrust being lost in two of the plane's engines.

But BEA director Paul-Louis Arslanian said it would still be a long time before the full underlying cause of the crash were discovered. Only then can the BEA make recommendations about modifications which might allow Concorde to fly again.

A BEA report published on Thursday night included a transcript of conversations in the cockpit of the doomed aircraft showing that the crew were unaware of the engine fire which brought the plane down until alerted by the control tower.

Speculation is growing that any modifications to the ageing supersonic airliner might prove too extensive. Rob Hewson, an aviation expert from Aerospace Analysis and Consulting, cited by the BBC, said: "The potential for this incident has been laying dormant for 20 years... and it's difficult to see how this can be fixed."

Another aeronautical expert was quoted as saying: "Doubtless it will never fly again."

British and French air safety authorities suspended the plane's airworthiness certificates in August.

The two nations said the 12 remaining Concordes would remain grounded until the risk stemming from tire blowouts could be addressed.


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