One of the things that's always amused me was a couple of email taglines I once saw. The first was "Every absurdity has a champion to defend it" and the other was "A conclusion in search of supporting facts."
One of the fallacies about aviation safety in general (and airline accident investigation in particular) is the apparent fixation on a singular "probable" cause, seemingly to the exclusion of other "causes" (i.e. contributing factors). Pretty much everyone knows that numerous things usually have to go wrong before an accident occurs, yet often times the "probable" cause is deemed to have been the "last, best chance to have prevented the accident." Put another way, "who pulled the trigger" while seeming to ignoring the context of which person(s) took the gun out of the locked drawer, loaded it, cocked it, and then left it where the toddler could get their hands on it.
The media especially suscribes to this tendency, since there's then a single villain thus assigned (often simplistically), and one then doesn't have to get bogged down in researching/reporting the complex technical inter-relationships of how things *really* work. They get in, get the story (or what they "think" the story is) and then get out, and on to the next "newsworthy" item. Hey, if it bleeds--it leads... McNews at 11....
In the case of the Concorde accident, (and along with the above, this is all just MHO), I don't think that CO was totally responsible. Yes, it supposedly was their DC-10 part on the runway, and yes, as such they're responsible for it being there, but it's not as open-and-shut as that. That said (and the Paris airport folks' failure to detect/remove this foreign object from the runway notwithstanding) airline type aircraft should be able to withstand impacts with stuff that they'll commonly see in everyday operations. Tire failures (regardless of cause) are one of them.
If, say a 737 or DC9/MD80 aircraft has departed immediately after the CO DC10 (instead of the Concorde) and struck the metal strip with a main gear tire, it too would have had tire problems. Both the 737 and DC9/MD80 types would have experienced damage to the underside of the wings/flaps, and the DC9/MD80 might have also experienced an associated engine failure from ingested debris. Whether or not either type of aircraft would have experienced damage to the underside of the wing sufficient to compromise their own fuel tanks is speculative. However, one *can* go back and look at nearly 40 years of operational history for these types and look at all the tire failures and the damage they've caused, i.e. whether or not compromised fuel tanks had occurred. Based on the accident records of these two aircraft types, I'd say they look pretty good, and the aircraft can withstand some commonly experienced stuff that causes tire failures and their aftermaths.
Now consider the Concorde, more precisely, its design and construction. (Please, no Boeing vs. Airbus debates...) Previous history of Concorde tire/wheel/brake problems would, I think, indicate a higher degree of intolerance of the aircraft being able to withstand collaterial damage. The press report of the Dulles-Paris (1979?) of the F/O coming back in the cabin after takeoff to assess the problem (hole in the wing with escaping fuel) and said F/O exclaiming "Mon Dieux!" (My God) would seem to indicate a pretty serious situation. Neither would it be the only one in the Concorde's history. How does this compare (rate of fuel tank compromises versus cycles flown) with other types of aircraft? Did the FAA/NTSB (and their French/English counterparts) do everything they could have done to mitigate the risk(s)?
It was a very sad accident, and the media coverage (including some stunning photos) of the demise of a French national symbol (akin to our Shuttle Challenger) lends itself to the public's demand for a simplistic "who's responsible, and I wanna know NOW" attitude.
If the Concorde can be modified to be more failure-TOLERANT (not failure-proof), and such modifications are not "band-aids" or "window dressing" to appease the masses (or cost-conscious operators), I'd get on a Concorde in a second, given the chance (and free ticket, of course)...
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.