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Air France Concorde Crash Update (August 14, 2000)

According to a report from the Transport Ministry's Accident and Inquiry Office on Thursday, August 10, investigators confirmed that a sixteen-inch piece of metal is the likely cause of the tire failure during the Concorde’s ill-fated takeoff roll on July 25, which resulted in the sleek aircraft plowing into a hotel, killing 113 people.

Sources said the jet was traveling at 195.5 mph when one of its tires exploded, sending chunks of rubber, some weighing as much as nine pounds, into one or more of the left wing’s fuel cells, which in turn lead to a massive fire that doomed the passenger jet.

Still, the Ministry added that the exact chain of events that brought the plane down remains to be determined, and that experts still must confirm their theory that the stray 16-inch metal piece was responsible for the tragedy. It also did not say where the metal might have come from.

(August 7, 2000)

While aviation experts have outlined a chain of events that led to the Concorde disaster, including a burst tire, fire in a fuel tank and catastrophic engine failure, until now they did not know what set the accident in motion.

But new evidence turned up Friday when investigators found an eighteen-inch piece of metal that did not belong to the Concorde on the runway near where a Concorde tire is now known to have exploded on its final takeoff roll. 

Speculation is that the metal punctured the tire, exploding it, producing shrapnel that ripped open a fuel tank. The resulting fire is what caused the number two engine to fail initially, with the number one engine following close behind. With two engines out on the same side, the Concorde’s fate was sealed.

Still, a conclusive chain of events leading to the accident will have to await further analysis of the metal and other evidence. Only then will French authorities make their final report.

Gonesse, France.  July 25, 2000-- The pilot of an Air France Concorde passenger jet with 100 passengers and nine crew that crashed into a hotel shortly after takeoff from Charles De Gaulle Airport, just outside Paris, today, killing all aboard and four on the ground, had reported trouble with the number 2 engine just before liftoff, according to initial examination of the cockpit voice recorder. h_concorde_477539_072500_01

Flight AF4590, a German charter whose tourists were enroute to New York for a cruise aboard the MS Deutschland, crashed at 4:44 local time after failing to gain altitude on takeoff. Interior Ministry said four people died at the 72-room Relais Bleus hotel, which is in the small town of Gonesse. At least a dozen other people in the hotel were injured. They were in good condition, Prime Minister Lionel Jospin said.

All the passengers were German except for one American and two Danes, Air France said.

Several eyewitnesses have come forward, including Air France President Jean-Cyril Spinetta, who said he had witnessed the crash but didn't specify from where. He told reporters at the airport: ``For those who were witnesses, of whom I was one, it seems that there was a fire in one or more of the engines on takeoff.''

There was insufficent runway and too much speed to allow for braking to stop the aircraft, so the pilot elected to take the ship airborne, where heīd be in a position to return to the airport.  But apparently, the problems with the number 2 engine spread to the number 1 engine, also on the left side, because the Concorde should have been able to fly perfectly well on three of its four Rolls Royce engines.  Instead, the jet appeared to have stalled, rolled inverted and plunged into the small town of Gonesse.

French television showed a horrifying still-photograph of the plane flying low over the airport, flames already trailing from its midsection, confirming the aforementioned accounts.  This particular jet had been in service since 1980, flown 12,000 hours and had just had a mechanical checkup July 21, which some speculate may have a bearing on its fate, since accidents are sometimes inadvertently caused by the very maintenance that’s suppose to keep them safe. This was the first Concorde to crash in its thirty-year history. h_concorde_072500_03

Popular with the world’s elite, the plane flies above turbulen ce at nearly 60,000 feet, where it cruises at better than 1,350 mph. A roundtrip Paris-New York ticket costs $9,000, roughly 25 percent more than regular first class. A London-New York roundtrip runs $9,850, but the trip takes only about 3 1/2 hours, less than half that of regular jetliners.

Thirteen of the jets are operated by Air France and British Airways.

On Jan. 30 of this year, a Concorde cockpit alarm sounded, warning of a fire in the rear cargo hold. The jet made an emergency landing at London's Heathrow Airport, but engineers found no problem.

The previous day, one of four engines had shut down on a Concorde as it approached Heathrow.

Air France officials maintain that their current fleet is fit to fly safely until 2007.

 

The ConcordeC apacity: 100 passengers, and 2.5 tonnes of cargo.

Seating:Th e front cabin has 40 seats, and the rear cabin 60 seats, both offering a single-class "R", or supersonic, brand of service.

Range: 4,300 miles (6,880 kms)

Engines: Four Rolls-Royce/SNE CMA Olympus 593s, each producing 38,000 lbs thrust with reheat.

Take-off speed: 220 knots (250 mph 400 kph).

Cruising speed: 1,350 mph (2,150 kph/Mach Two), at 60,000 ft (18,181 m)

Landing speed: 187 mph (300 kph)

Length: 203 ft 9 ins (62.1 m)

Wingspan: 83 ft 8 ins (25.5 m)

Height: 37 ft 1 ins (11.3 m)

Fuel capacity: 26,286 Imperial gallons (119,500 litres/95,600 kgs)

source: British Airways

 

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