French investigators revealed the possible origin of the 16 inch long metal strip found on the runway after the crash of the Concorde near Paris on July 25th. Experts theorize that the strip caused the tire blowout, that set off the chain of events which led to the crash; although they have so far refused to formally link all the circumstances involved.
In a statement Monday a spokesman said that an investigator in Houston had confirmed that a Continental Airlines DC-10 was missing a piece of a thrust reverser that matched the metal strip. Continental confirmed the report, but added that the piece in question was inside the rear engine, wasn’t essential to the aircraft’s operation, and wasn’t discoverable without partially disassembling the engine.
The report further stated that the plane, numbered N 067, had taken off on the same runway used by the Concorde approximately 5 minutes before on a flight from Paris to Newark.
If the missing piece is linked to the crash, it would tend to absolve airport authorities, who have been accused of negligence for failing to examine the runway properly. A regularly scheduled survey of the area was delayed by a fire drill. On the other hand the discovery led some French commentators to speculate what responsibility, if any, Continental may have for the crash.
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