Concorde To Fly Again – For Tests Only

January 18, 2001

French aviation authorities have given Air France permission to fly one of its supersonic Concordes (at subsonic speeds) to an airbase near Marseilles for two weeks of intensive testing in the hopes that the aircraft can regain its airworthiness certificate.

The most recent report on July’s crash of the Concorde near Paris confirmed that debris from a burst tire, which occurred when the plane struck a piece of metal on the runway, had caused one of the fuel tanks in the left wing to rupture, apparently from the inside. The leaking fuel caught fire; the engines shut down, and eventually the pilot lost control and the plane crashed, killing all aboard.

Concorde’s airworthiness certificate was withdrawn shortly after the crash, and both British Airways and Air France have been working on ways to assure that the problems do not recur, and that the Concorde will once again be certified to fly passengers.

The aircraft’s fuel tanks have been fitted with Kelvar linings, similar to the materials used in bulletproof vests and Formula-1 racing cars. It is scheduled to undergo at least two weeks of rigorous testing at the French Air Force base in Istres. If the problems have been corrected, both companies say they hope to have Concorde back in the air within the next few months.

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