This was discussed at length on another forum , Sorry it did not talk about non gear retraction but "crew realized that they had blown one or two tires but that they were going to continue to Paris". From other sources the burst caused the gear not to retract and the crew initiated a return to Washington.
What the article details is the flight on F-BVFC in 1979 and to summarise the incident here is what was reported in the BEA accident report on the July 2000 accident when it detailed previous tyre bust accidents:
"14 June 1979: F-BVFC on takeoff from Washington Dulles Airport. Deflation of tyre nƒ 6 followed by loss of tread, leading to burst of tyre nƒ 5 and the destruction of wheel nƒ5 and small perforations in tanks 2, 5 and 6. After some unsuccessful attempts to retract the landing gear, the loss of the Green hydraulic system and a drop on the Yellow system to the first low level, the crew landed the aircraft back at Washington twenty-four minutes later. "
There was one other thing that make it stick out that it was a bit inaccurate; "My port-side window seat was in row 35".......Concorde only has 25 rows of 4 to make up the 100 Capacity.
For anyone wanting to read the article here it is:
On june 14, 1979, I was on Air France Flight 054, a Concorde (F-BVFC) bound for Paris-Charles de Gaule Airport from Dulles International Airport, Washington, D.C. My port-side window seat was in row 35, wich is about two-thirds of the way aft on the airplane.
At approximately 3.25 p.m., local time, the aircraft started a normal takeoff roll. After what I thought would be V1 speed, there was a violent shaking and shuddering of the aircraft that felt as if it was caused by one or more blown tires, or as if the runway was inextremely poor condition. Knowing that the Dulles runway was not in this terrible state, it was my opinion at the time that we had experienced the failure of one or more tires.
A few seconds later, at virtualy the same instant as liftoff (or what we felt like liftoff from my seat), an object flew past my window vertically. This shocked me as any object which we might be passing (a bird, some condensation, a vaporization cloud, etc.) would do so in a horizontal movement. I could not imagine how an object would flash by my window in a vertical direction.
The object I saw was either white or, more likely, metallic in color. At the time, I had the idea that the object looked like it was either aluminium or magnesium. I immediately lifted myself up in the seat and looked almost straight down, at the sharpest angle possible, to visually inspect the wing, close to the fuselage. I could see (it was now about 10 seconds after liftoff) a hole in the wing that appeared to be approximately 2 feet square. The exact dimmensions were difficult to gauge through the three levels of glazing and the angle that I was viewing it from. Also visible was a group of hydraulic hoses-at least six or eight- and some were starting to actally protude through the hole in the wing. In addition, the increassing velocity of the airplane was ripping off pieces of wing skin. Some sort of fluid - I could not tell whether it was hydraulic or fuel - started to spew out of the wing.
At liftoff plus 45 to 50 seconds, I pushed my flight attendant call button. Receiving no response, I got up and went towards the back of the aircraft to alert the crew. The stewardess, who did not seem alarmed at the shuddering which we had experienced on takeoff, commented on the fact that I should not be moving around in the aircraft while the seat belt sign was still on. I pointed out to her that there was a hole in the wing of the aircraft and that she should immediatly advise the cockpit that they had a serious problem, partially because the aircraft was still accelerating.
The stewardess advised me that this condition was « normal » and that I should not change seats before the seat belt sign was turned off. I explained that it was not normal for an aircraft, even for a French aircraft, to shed its skin on takeoff. In order to gain some credibility, I told her that I had been in the aerospace business for approximately20 years, sold fighter planes for a living, had previously flown Concorde a number of times and that I knew they had a severe problem with the airplane.
Now, sitting in the rear row of seats in the aircraft (both of the seats on the port side of the rear of the aircrat were empty), I could look out and see quantities of some sort of fluid going by the window. Once again, I could not tell whether this was fuel,
I asked the stewardess or the steward to come up with me and look out the window at the hole in the wing. Neither were particularly intersted and, while I was having discussions with them, the seat belt sign was turned off and the cabin attendants started to serve drinks.
I was becoming incressingly alarmed becausse I was still the only one who had seen the hole in the wing despite my continuing entreaties to get the crew to look out of the row 35 port window. Additionally, the aircraft was still accelerating and what would happen to that wing when we went through the speed of sound, if indeed we ever made it to the speed of sound? I didn’t even want to think about that.
Finally, after I had made a considerable issue of the fact that someone should look out the window at the damadged wing, the steward went up to the flight deck. Returning shortly thereafter, he told me that the crew realized that they had blown one or two tires but that they were going to continue to Paris as it was not certain that spare tires were available at New York or Washington, D.C. I replied that I was personally going up to the flight deck to talk to either the pilot or co-pilot if they refuse to come back to talk to me. In fact, I actually started up the aisle before the steward agreed to go forward again and appeal to the fligh crew.
In a few moments, a cocpit crew member, either the co-pilot or flight engineer, came backto my seat, accompanied by the steward. By now, the no smoking sign had been turne off and some of the passengers had lit up. This alarmed me a great deal. I took the gentleman from the flight deck to my seat and literally held his head above the window so that he could look down and see the damaged to the wing. When he saw the hole, the crewman exclaimed, « Mon Dieu ».
It became clear to me that, until then, the pilots were still proceeding on the assumption that they had simply blown a couple of tires and were unaware that there was a hole in the wing. As evidennce that my evaluation was correct, the aircraft was accelerating and the cabin crew was beginning its regular service.
The engineer or co-pilot then asked me if I would take a seat in the absolute rear of the airplane, by the rear door, and that I should « act like part of the crew ».He said that they « were going to be needing plenty of help ». This gentlemen then swiftly returned to the flight deck. Almost immediatly, the seat belt and no-smoking signs were turned on, and the Concorde began slowing down.
Shortly thereafter, the aircraft started making violent maneuvers and it appeared to me that we flew over Dulles Airport. In scribbling down my notes, I stopped at that point because it was clear that everyone who mattered were aware of a serious problem.
A safe landing was made at Dulles Airport, but incredibly – in view of the potential fire hazard – we were held on board the aircraft for what seemed like an eternity before being allowed to disembark. There was no emergency egress. Later, I heard that the drivers operating the « people mover » mobile lounges had not wanted to get close to the aircraft for fear of a fire breaking out!
An investigation discovered that the No.5 and 6 tires on the left main landing gear had exploded and debris and wheel shrapnel had damaged the No.2 engine, fuel tanks, hydraulic lines and electrical cables, and torn a large hole in the wing above the wheel well area. The National Transportation Safety Board subsequently termed the incident « potentially catastrophic »
One thing that I found most upsetting was that the Air France flight attendants would not pass on to the cockpit crew the comments that a passenger made relative to the fact that there was a hole in the wing of the aircraft. If a passenger , on any airline, tells the cabin crew that tere is a hole in the wing, it means that there is a hole, in which case someone should take a look at it. Either that or the passenger making the obsevation is a nut. In either case, the cockpit crew should be notified without delay.
This a reproduction of a article that was originally published in the 1990 Fall Edition of Airliners magazine written by William I. Lightfoot and published again in the same magazine in their Jan/Feb 2001 edetion.