First of all, I would like to say that I am a fan of the Concorde. I think it hearkens back to the more "romantic" days of aviation. The aircraft was designed by men with slide rules (not computers) and therefore, is flown in a "slide rule sort of way". The aircraft is an awesome feat of engineering and it deserves more than a footnote in the book of aviation history.
That being said however, I am tired of hearing about the Concorde's "impeccable safety record". That is simply not true. The aircraft has had a dozen incidents involving tire blowouts and subsequent damage to the aircraft as a result. The most serious event occurred at Washington Dulles in 1979, when two tires exploded and ruptured three of the fuel tanks. Fortunately, the leaking fuel did not ignite and a possible tragedy was averted.
The problem we have is that the media looks at the big picture and fails to go beyond the mere surface of events. They see an aircraft that has flown for 30 years without a fatality and they say "wow, it has a sterling safety record", while failing to take into account the number of flights that the fleet has accumulated during those 30 years. To put it into perspective, please read the following article:
Then for further clarification, check out this chart:
You can see by comparison that over their 30 years of service, the entire fleet of Concordes has only accumulated the equivalent of 10 days worth of flights by the world's fleet of 737's. It's like comparing apples to oranges. This should hopefully help to dispell the myth of the Concorde's near perfect safety record.
As far as the cause of the crash, yes a piece of metal caused the tire to blow out, but as Dave in Berlin mentioned, with any other aircraft that wouldn't have been a factor. And the Concorde's history of tire failures bears that out...
Now for the subject of debris from other aircraft... I am an aircraft mechanic and I've been involved with aviation for my entire adult life. Let me tell you, little pieces of airplanes are dropping off of every different type of aircraft at every airport in the world all of the time. Anytime you have such a complex piece of machinery, constructed out of a million parts undergoing such high stresses over and over again, things are going to fall off. I don't know how many times I've had a plane come in missing an airstart or external power door, because someone forgot to latch it properly. These things happen.
So, while I'm not trying to attack anyone, I just wanted to include my $.02 and hopefully help set the record straight on a couple of things.
Patrick Bateman is my hero.