View Full Version : Continental may be charged for Concorde Crash (Press Report)

9th Dec 2004, 13:04
Courtesy of www.airdisaster.com

Continental 'outraged' at report of charges in Concorde crash.

"PARIS (AP) -- Continental Airlines Inc. said Wednesday it was "outraged" at reports that French authorities want to prosecute the airline and several employees over the Concorde crash that killed 113 people in Paris four years ago.
The airline issued a strongly worded statement after a French newspaper reported that investigating judge Christophe Regnard had summoned several Continental officials for interrogation and plans to place them under formal investigation along with the company.

"We strongly disagree that anything Continental did was the cause of the Concorde accident, and we are outraged by the media reports that criminal charges may have been made against our company and its employees," the airline said.

Continental said it had no independent confirmation of the charges reported in French daily newspaper Le Parisien, which did not cite sources.

The French justice ministry and the prosecutor's office handling the case declined to comment.

The newspaper said other companies or individuals were also likely to face prosecution over the accident on July 25, 2000, when an Air France Concorde plane crashed in flames onto a hotel shortly after taking off from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, killing all 109 people on board and four on the ground.

An investigation by France's Accident Investigations Bureau concluded almost three years ago that the accident was caused by a badly installed titanium "wear strip" that had fallen off the engine housing of a Continental Airlines Boeing DC-10 that took off from the same runway minutes earlier.

The metal bar caused a Concorde tire to burst, the report said, propelling rubber debris into the supersonic plane's fuel tanks.

Le Parisien did not name any of the Continental employees it said would be summoned by Regnard, who is heading a manslaughter probe into the disaster.

In its statement, the airline said it was "confident that there is no basis for a criminal action" against the company. "We will defend any charges in the appropriate courts," it said.

Continental shares rose 4 cents, or 0.3 percent, to close at $12.25 Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange -- near the middle of its 52-week trading range of $7.63 to $18.70."

Might this type of case, even of brought to court, nevermind proved or otherwise cause a precedent for any other incidents?

Human Factor
9th Dec 2004, 14:02
Surely their defence would be that CDG didn't check their runway before Concorde (or anyone else) departed. Right or wrong, I can see it happening.

9th Dec 2004, 14:58
That was exactly the first thing that went through my mind as well. The foreign object could have been anything.

9th Dec 2004, 15:08
When bad stuff happens, it seems a real human thing these days to have to 'blame' someone.

Much easier to point at someone and say 'it's their fault' than to say 'sh*t happens' however tragically.

In this more and more litigious society 'blame' means big bucks.

That said, that form of 'society' was learned beyond 50 West anyway - a slight irony there.

Not sure that anyone could be held responsible for that tragedy - but if they can pin it on Continental, then there's someone to share the bill with.

Does that sound cynical?

9th Dec 2004, 15:14
Where does it stop? Should the the check airman of the FE who shut down the wrong engine also be charged? What about the DGCA rep who had oversight of the check airman?

kick the tires
9th Dec 2004, 15:38
Human Factor,

how many airfields check a runway after EVERY departure?? - None! Just imagine what the flow rate would be.

No, that argument is a non starter.

9th Dec 2004, 15:55
What about the guys who put together the Concord undercarriage with parts missing?

After all, that's the real reason for the crash, isn't it?

9th Dec 2004, 15:59
Would appreciate all those 'high blood pressure/angry' types getting it through their heads that posting rubbish about "liberating France in WWII" or "whining French" etc. is a futile effort on here as it is only going to be deleted. If you want to have rant to get xenophobic tendencies off your chests then go to the Jet Blast forum. (No guarantees that your posts will be allowed to remain there either but it keeps the 'trailer-trash/redneck' comments off this forum!)

Discuss as intelligent adults or else find yourselves an 'anoraks' website. :*

Oshkosh George
9th Dec 2004, 16:23
I know some spotters who are really quite intelligent!

What are you trying to say?

9th Dec 2004, 17:00
A colleague of mine who is the maintrol manager of the company who service major undercarriage for most european airlines, stated to me that the "part" not installed (-and- the non modifed spray deflector) could and most probably were the primary cause of the tyre failure. It was already tracking off line before the FOD to tyre impact. Most likely the high speed of Concorde on take off would have caused a possible catastrophic failure of tyres 1/2 and possibly 5 and 6 prmiarily due to the tyre angle and track being estimated at over 20 degrees off centre and increasing aircraft accelerated down the runway. INcreasing rudder inputs to maintain runway heading would have been large if not to be full deflection towards the end of the run.

I am definately not going to belittle the french legal system but on past historic events, if they can blame someone else for a failing and not their own product they will. Litigation is very likely in this case and I think it may pull open a few closed cupboards that the french may not like if I know the US legal system.

No comment
9th Dec 2004, 17:55
If I may add my own two pence worth, I remember reading about the part apparently from the CO departure prior to Concorde.

Was there not a story running at the time that the part was in fact a non standard component? i.e. that the part ending up on the runway was made of a much tougher metal than what would normally be used?

I'm not sure how this "allegation" ended up but if true, then perhaps CO would be liable but that is the only scenario I could see them being taken to court for.

Anything other than that would be pointless.

(p.s. I'm not saying anything against CO, just what I remember reading!!!)

9th Dec 2004, 18:07
Why not sue the Wright brothers estate for inventing the whole business??? Or Charles Lindbergh for starting Atlantic crossings, the CO DC10 was going to cross wasn't it? So surely old Chuck could be discredited?

How about just suing the people that designed Concorde for their omissions and lack of testing in this area or instructors that didn't cover this scenario in the simulator?

Come on... French justice system muct be idling or someone is looking to move to the politics and is trying to make a name and get the old face on screen.


9th Dec 2004, 19:41
Also rumours about:
TOW in excess of TOPL
Some unaccounted baggage
Tailwind ignored

AF nearly lost a second one, just after the aircraft returned to service. Landed with minutes to go after a fuel leak.
That's why the plug was pulled for BA too, great shame for a company that not only obeyed the rules but exceeded them.

I see a can of worms being opened,
bon chance- Air France


9th Dec 2004, 19:44
If somebody at the local garage put my brakes back together incorrectly and the car crashed as a result I don't think I would be after Henry T. Same thing if the bonnet fell off and the car behind hit it.

9th Dec 2004, 19:47
I can see why the French wants to sue Continental. It was alleged that the piece of metal that caused the tyre failure was said to be manufactured and installed incorrecly. Assuming that is really what happened, Continental could be found liable for the accident. After all, it was their aircraft and it is their job to make sure everything on it is proper. I don't really understand how the court system works in the EU but if this were to happen in the States, it will most likely to end up in civil court. FAA would probably fines Continental for improper maintinence.

Personally, I haven't read the accident report so what I just said could be entirely garbage.

Ranger 1
9th Dec 2004, 20:15
What about the Runway inspections at CDG that day?
It emerged that the only inspection was carried out many hours prior to the departure of Concord , & the excuse was given that there was a fire drill which meant the Fire Dept couldn't carry out the inspection :mad:
Although it has been mentioned that the piece of metal which had just come off the DC-10 just prior to Concords departure, had been a major factor in the incident, in my opinion does not let CDG off the hook, if this happened here in the UK, I feel that the airport concerned, with its runway inspection proceedures like CDG , given the movement rate as well, would be looking at a possible charge of "Failure of duty of care".
Also how many airports of this size have their Fire Depts doing Runway inspections?
Not really dedicated stuff in my opinion :confused:have they heard of dedicated Airside ops / Safety units ?
Perhaps its the French way of doing things :(

9th Dec 2004, 20:38
:{ OK chaps this is the plan......... If this action proceeds then;

Every pilot, every airline, every handling agent, every airport, infact anybody to do with aviation should refuse to fly Lawyers / solicitors / Barristers etc etc

This "litigation business" has gone far enough. And it is this group of people who are fuelling and sustaining it all. We all accept that gross negligence has no place in this business of aviation and we do more than any other industry to prevent it. But an accident is an accident, and while humans are in "the loop" they will probably occur, hopefully very very occasionally.

So, lets reclaim our future back from the grubby hands of the legal profession and get back to straight and level again. I've got a feeling they might begin to miss their frequent trips to Tuscany, Provence, Aspen or wherever......... paid for by you and me of course. Who is with me on this one?


9th Dec 2004, 20:40
The lump of metal from the DC10 was definitely the prime cause of the accident. It was a titanium rubbing strip, about the size of a 1-foot ruler, from a thrust reverser. It was designed to be easily replaceable because it got rubbed in normal use. The part that fell off was rather crudely made and was not an OEM part, but the book said you could make one yourself if you wanted to. I am not sure if it was supposed to be made of aluminium and someone had made a titanium one to get a longer life out of it or whether they are all made of titanium.

This one was always going to be a lawyers' benefit but I would be rather surprised if individuals are to be charged at this stage. It would be difficult if not impossible to prove culpability at this stage. Company lawyers seeking damages from othercompanies is another matter.

I don't believe that the missing spacer on the U/C had much to do with it and the aircraft was not overweight. It was right on the limit, and that did not help. It had a long taxi, and that didn't help as the tyres would have heated up. However, it was the lump of bent titanium that sliced up the tyre and threw big lumps of rubber up that really did the damage.

9th Dec 2004, 21:55
The strip of metal had been badly cut giving it a serrated edge that caused it to cut into the tyre and burst it. The cut mark matched the tangled mess the strip ended up in, and it was the reason why the piece of tyre that hit the wing was so large. The tyres on Concorde were supposed to break into small fragments should they burst. Also, the screw holes had been haphazadly drilled and didn't even form a straight line which is probably why it fell off in the first place.

9th Dec 2004, 22:34
Following the AF Concorde story when it happened and post factum postings, there seemed to be a general agreement that the runway should have been cleared of any debris after each heavy took off, and especially before a Concorde took off. According to all those pages and posts, this was not done. I don't remember who said it, but the gist was that almost every heavy aircraft loses something on takeoff. Therefore the snuff patrol, but the main point is that before every Concorde takeoff the runway was to be clean. Somebody screwed up.

9th Dec 2004, 22:44
The lump of metal from the DC10 was definitely the prime cause of the accident.

Interesting. How then would we explain previous history of burst tires puncturing fuel tanks? Also, how much do you feel shutting down a perfectly operating engine contributed to the crash?

9th Dec 2004, 23:03
Slightly off topic;

A few years ago a First Officer on a shorts 330 was killed after a collision with an MD80 at CDG, the primary cause of the accident was due to language and misunderstandings due to the controllers speaking a non standard language ie FRENCH. The report strongly advised that CDG adopt the international standard language, ENGLISH, have they done that? no!! so who is liable for that accident and should another happen god forbid because lessons have not been learned would the french courts charge the controllers and French pilots? prob not. Double standards here i think.

9th Dec 2004, 23:08
I really don't think that Continental and Air France apply to this scenario on take off. If two planes from two different countries are trying to land, then I may agree on the language spoken, but in this case, I don't think it carries any water.

9th Dec 2004, 23:12
As more and more aircraft accidents end up as criminal prosecutions rather than life saving/improving safety excersizes the whole process of accident investigation is changing.

It also makes increasingly harder to support things like FDR's, CVR's and cockpit camera's when their ultimate use is no longer in the safety realm but the PUNISHMENT realm.

It is a very different mentality overseas from America in an accident investigation, but the valujet investigations have changed the dynamics in the USA as well.

This is a VERY bad idea, but not suprising. The difference in culture was quite well represented during the 587 investigation (the first time I was involved in the investigation an Airbus product)

But when you realize that all things end in courts and penal systems don't have the same protections around the world, these things become somewhat easier to understand.

Think about that the next time a Greek controllers goes berzerk at you. He might go to jail... He's got a lot of pressure on him, over and above just safety...


Doug the Head
10th Dec 2004, 00:38
Posted by Koyo: I can see why the French wants to sue Continental. It was alleged that the piece of metal that caused the tyre failure was said to be manufactured and installed incorrecly. Assuming that is really what happened, Continental could be found liable for the accident. I´m definitely no lawyer, but what about the word accident? I´m sure the CO technician who installed that piece of metal did not intend to crash an AF Concorde! It was most probably an unintentional mistake, and now the French authorities want to sue someone for that? It does not make sense!

As some people have pointed out, with this mentality there is no end in sight about blaming someone for an accident!

10th Dec 2004, 01:10
For those of you who missed the memo:

a journalist published a charming little article a few years back about how this flight was a "death ride" because of the missing spacer, leaving the gate above take off weight, taking off with a tail wind, and Jacques Chirac's jet on a neighboring taxiway causing a rotation before V1.

To clear the air:

A) The weight the aircraft had was not that at the end of the runway -- it had burned to exactly MTOW.
B) Winds were calm. The winds as measured at various points along the runway indicate that, for most of the run, the concorde had a headwind. Whatever mild tailwind tower was announcing, it wasn't the headwind as measured at the threshhold and halfway down the strip.
C) The missing spacer may have had something do with it -- I dunno.

Now, as for blaming Continental: yeah, there probably was a shortcoming in maintenance. And it probably led to leaving a big nasty foreign object on the runway. And that Concorde undoubtedly suffered a tire blowout from FOD, a tire blowout which punctured the wing, set the aircraft on fire, and ultimately led to a catastrophic failure and loss of life.
But -correct me if I'm wrong- tire failures are rather common events, and it was only on Concordes that they tended to take parts of the wing with them.
And aircraft do at times make messes behind them. While operators should make every effort not to do so, the responsibility for providing a safe runway lies with the airfield operator, just as the decision to take off on that runway is that of the pilot. It has to be that way.

Of course, criminal inquiries by investigating judges do not equate to findings of liability.

Loose rivets
10th Dec 2004, 01:12
The piece of metal caused the tire to fail. The tire caused the aircraft to crash.

As a layman, it seems to me that if the piece of metal had caused the crash by an immediate destructive process, i.e. entering and engine, then there would be some culpability…somewhere. But where the demise of this aircraft was caused by the failure of one of its tires, then the question has to be asked: if a tire fails, should it bring down the aircraft? I think not.

10th Dec 2004, 01:16
You're right about the word "accident". CO had no intension of hurting anyone. However, if it can be foreseen that an event can occur as a result of negligence you can still be liable. It's like excessive speeding. I'm sure the driver don't intend to kill anyone but he/she can foreseen that it could happen. So it comes down to this. Could CO had predicted that the strip of metal can cause such tragic accident. I'm not blaming CO completely here.

Thomas Doubting
10th Dec 2004, 04:54
The piece of metal and the spacer

Hold on guys, please go back to Slingsby’s post above. It is a known fact that the spacer was missing, but it is not a proven fact, as far as I know, that any tyre actually hit the piece of metal. It is only an assumption, and a convenient one at that. The piece of metal was found on the runway after the event. That is accepted, but IMHO there is enough evidence that the tyre failure and resulting fuel tank rupture could be attributed to the missing spacer alone.

As far as I recall, the missing spacer produced something like three degrees of LHS bogie misalignment. Running the tyres with that much misalignment produces a lot of side force. It’s a distant memory, and I am happy to be corrected, but I would expect a side force of something more than 20% of the vertical load on the tyres with that much misalignment. If you don’t believe me, try doing it with your car. A little bit of steering track rod adjustment should do it. Then try driving it at between 100 to 200 mph.

As the aircraft accelerated down the runway, the two bogies would have been fighting each other and pulling to one side, with corrective rudder inputs to try and keep the aircraft tracking straight. Thereby applying side force predominantly to the LHS bogie tyres.

Evidently, the scrubbing action on the LHS tyres was also sufficient to lay rubber on the runway, to me that is very significant. I saw the photographs showing the tyre marks going off the runway to the left. Not just one tyre, but the whole LHS bogie set. Scrubbing the misaligned tyres at that speed for a considerable distance, as evidently happened, would have also generated a lot of heat in the tyres. Easily enough to cause tyre failure.

Then did the tyres also hit the runway edge lights?

IMHO, scrubbing the tyres alone would be enough to explain the tyre failure. If they hit the piece of metal as well, then that was double bad luck.

I’m 100% with Slingsby. The skeletons in the cupboard are waiting for the lawyers. Personally, I think it is about time that this tragedy was properly laid to rest.

10th Dec 2004, 06:23
Reading round what you've all written, I daresay the 'truth' is covered in there somewhere.

The piece of metal is pretty much agreed to be the cause of the first INCIDENT, the ACCIDENT happened a bit further down the line - the error chain.

Sad fact about error chains is that they are most obvious to investigators and lay-people alike all possessing 20:20 hindsight (that's not a dig at anyone).

The saddest fact of all this (if true) is that the ONLY winners in this whole sorry tale are going to be law firms and lawyers AND of course, the MEDIA, who will feed on it like parasites.

I'm sorry if I offend anyone who happens to be from the Media, but your track record of accuracy versus drama value in aviation topics leaves you condemned - utterly (and I'm specifically citing accident reporting here, not industrial topic coverage).

Facts, Truth and Accuracy seldom are allowed to interfere with a good 'story'.

There is no wonder that many in the aviation industry (ie 'doing the job') regard the press as a species of pond life.

Lawyers come a close second.

OK - I am cynical.

10th Dec 2004, 07:11
The Concorde might have been very close to or slightly above MTOW, but I understand that it was very definitely well above RTOW for the conditions passed to the crew. If they chose to ignore that, they would have commenced the take-off roll in contravention of JAR-OPS requirements. A decision which would reflect adversly upon the AF Commander's risk management strategy.

The incorrectly repaired undercarriage assembly and the a/c weight delayed acceleration so that they hit a piece of metal from an incorrectly repaired Continental a/c. That caused the tyre burst which in turn led to the fire. The FE shut down an engine which, whilst damaged, was still producing thrust without being so ordered. That guaranteed disaster...

10th Dec 2004, 08:25
It would seem from the above posts that we have an error chain involving

An incorrectly assembled bogey on the Concord

A take off probably above RTOW

A piece of metal on the runway from a CO DC10

NO runway inspection for a long period

A tyre failure for some reason

an uncommanded (by the PF) shut down of an engine still doing useful work

And the only non native link in that chain appears to have attracted the spotlight of litigation?:yuk:

10th Dec 2004, 08:28
Right on Arkroyal, and I would add a history of burst tires resulting in punctured fuel tanks. BA chose to retrofit their Concordes to add integrity to the fuel tanks during these events,
Air France chose not to.

Ranger 1
10th Dec 2004, 15:24
Its what we call the Domino effect, remove 1 piece & it should not happen. :(

10th Dec 2004, 16:37
Before too many people join in on the ever so popular sport of french bashing, have anybody actually been charged with anything? is there any evidence that anybody will be, besides a report appearing in a news media that is usually treated with utter contempt on this forum.

10th Dec 2004, 18:19
While litigation seems to be an increasingly depressing trend that may destroy us in Europe, and fueled by increased insurance premiums has already driven prices on products and services in the US stupidly high, it would be interesting to see if this legal challenge is fact or simply speculation.
How they will prove that it was that metal strip alone which caused the disaster, and that it was in fact Continental's will also be interesting? A number of other pertinant facts surely directly affected the outcome of that tragic day. The spacer and evidence of it's effect seems to have been clear, had the TO distance not increased might the aircraft in fact not have rotated before reaching the object which, may, or not, have burst the tire?
What sadly is true is that those who would profit most from a case like this, is most likely to be the press and the legal profession.

10th Dec 2004, 18:51
Seems to me that this is a classic "chain of events" or "domino" accident, where a number of systematic failures are exacerbated by human factors. Any one of them not occurring could have stopped the entire sequence.

Many other unfortunate accidents, such as Chernobyl, Piper Alpha, Space Shuttle(s), etc followed such chains as well. To not learn from these properly is the real shame.

Without wishing to incur the wrath of Danny, I do feel that there is not a French arrogance to this, or that the lawyers are driving it. More the Grand Ecole (the politicians) attitude (We are right, we don't make mistakes, everyone else is wrong).

Now, exactly what might be the FO in FOD? Metal? A bird? The fox I saw last year? At CDG. Any one of those could cause similar devastating circumstances. The fact that I saw a fox running across the runway - should we balme the French for a lackadaisical attitude? Should they do more? SHould we stop flights from CDG at once?

People who live in glass houses should not throw stones. The blame process here seems only to be trying to divert attention in the most silly way. Perhaps driven in the most nationalistic, and ironic given the name of the airport, of ways. In so doing, the real issues, and ALL of them, may be missed.

So, Messieurs, grow up, vous ne devez pas etre "comme des garcons", and make sure that this does not happen again.

10th Dec 2004, 18:51

Times will come that the pilot`s parents will be charged because he was born....


:yuk: :yuk: :yuk: :yuk: :yuk: :yuk: :yuk: :yuk:

10th Dec 2004, 19:13
While we the public ultimately pay for such waste and nonsense, I'd like to see the matter brought to trial, so I can enjoy seeing Continental's lawyers publicly spank those suggesting that they are to blame for this terrible accident.

10th Dec 2004, 19:38
Having enjoyed 44 flights on Concorde mostly New York routeing but some Washington ones as well, I feel strongly that the French are by a massive percentage the ones at which responsibility for the crash must be laid. A tyre burst at a critical point on the take off roll should not result in the deaths of over 100 people.
The typical French arrogance in not following BA's example to mod the guards to prevent wing puncture if a tyre burst at a critical point in the TO run, didn't help.
The possible engineering cock up during U/C assembly that caused the offset tracking, made matters worse.
The Air France use of many more retreads per tyre carcase than BA may have been a factor.
The French Flight Engineer that shut a working engine down without being told to, sounded the death knell.

By contrast, Continental is but an innocent bystander.

Aviate 1138

10th Dec 2004, 20:55
"Also, how much do you feel shutting down a perfectly operating engine contributed to the crash?"

As I understand it damage to wiring caused a warning on the No 2 engine which was then correctly shut down iaw drills. The engine itself was OK but the crew were not to know that. Indeed, I would not entertain any criticism of the crew in this case - they did everything that could be expected of them in a situation that was irrecoverable. Concorde was designed to climb at 4% gradient (safer than the subsonic ordinary plane's 3.2%) with one engine out, u/c retracted. The accident aircraft had one engine shut down, another giving less than full power for a time, an u/c that was not fully retracted and a plume of flame at the back which produced extra drag. (I don't want to start a hare running here but the plume causes afterbody drag - the air sees it a part of the aeroplane.) Under these circumstances there was no way it was going to climb.

Concorde probably was more vulnerable than other aircraft to tyre damage, but not by much. I know other manufacturers are looking carefully at the hazards which might arise on their aircraft in similar circumstances. Hopefully we can all learn from this disaster. It would be an insult to a fine professional crew and all those pax if we did not.

11th Dec 2004, 03:26
Hmmm, after the jackals of the legal profession and media have finished with this carcass, it would be nice to think that we, as an industry actually learn something from it.

I have a problem with 'fitting tributes to . . .' because I think it's a sentiment full of excrement. It suits as as humans to fudge our feelings to make ourselves feel better, it has little to do with the personalities concerned.

What I DO believe is that certain incidents (not only in our industry) act as turnkeys to improving safety - Herald of Free Enterprise, the ferry for example.

That said, we've not learned much about furnishings aboard since the Manchester 737 have we? How long ago was that?

We still carry bottles and bottles of Molotov Cocktails (Duty Free to the uninitiated) too, instead of ground based DF lounge on arrival like some airports now have.

I believe the crew probably did the best they could given the circumstances they were presented with. I also believe that they were in a worst case scenario and a no-win situation.

I have an enormous amount of sympathy for the nearest and dearest of all aboard, because you NEVER go off to work not expecting to come back (unless you're a terrorist I suppose), and the family accept that your job takes you away - there is no belief (only a silent fear) that it is permanent.

Can you imagine what is going through the minds of the Continental crew - the 'if onlys'?

I pray that this accident too, allows work to be done to make EVERYBODY safer.

Say Mach Number
11th Dec 2004, 06:23
Its fair to say there still some very important unanswered questions:

According to a seperate investigation carried out by those who clearly felt the facts as given by the French Authorities didnt stack up; one being an ex AF Concorde Flight Engineer


1. Why was a report by a CDG fire crew by the side of the runway stated that they saw Concorde on fire well short of where the strip of metal was found dismissed by investigators?

2. Apparantely due to Concordes TOW it requested full length and an area of the runway rarely used and as a result in particularly poor condition. While these suspicious chaps were looking into this rough area being a cause for the tyre to burst.
CDG had subsequetly resurfaced it. Evidence gone!

3. Evidence from the runway seemed to suggest Concorde had left the centre line, again before reaching the strip of metal. Bearing out the point above.

4. Concorde was veering toward the AF 747 on the taxiway and as a result got airbourne well short of Vr. According to the transcript the FE seemed to shut down the engine which was still producing thrust without a call from the Captain. This these investigators agreed sealed Concordes fate.

5. The programme ended by saying the assisting British investigators never actually got to see the strip of metal and the full CVR tape. Why?

Funny enough only seen this programme aired once. But it seemed convincing.

12th Dec 2004, 15:33
Bits fall off aeroplanes all the time. Just a couple of days ago a large bit fell off a departing Cathay and did nasty things to Khun <somebody's> pickup parked not a million miles from BKK.

To be fair, Cathay are paying for his new windscreen and undenting his roof and god bless 'em..

The point is (as someone said earlier) Sh*t happens.

If M le Grenoble reckons he's got a chance of pinning the Air France Concorde tragedy on Continental then good luck to him. Just so long as Continental are not required to contribute to the legal costs on what has to be a complete waste of time and very bad public relations.

It's so stupid. If I run over a nail on the road and puncture a tyre, I don't go looking for the nail manufacturer for recompense.

12th Dec 2004, 16:48
Let's play the game here for a second.

What will the amount of money be and just what, if the suit was won, would the money go to?

13th Dec 2004, 00:46
Take-off weight was calculated to be 186,9 tons, including 95 tons of fuel, which was one tone over the maximum take-off weight.
Just WHY was the take-off attempted?

Colonel W E Kurtz
13th Dec 2004, 08:28
I heard that after the crash, the loadsheet mysteriously disappeared.......

14th Dec 2004, 14:34
Sky News report at 1500 today says that French report, just out, has blamed "a metal strip on the runway".

...breath in...

14th Dec 2004, 15:03
Reports in 3 US papers confirming AC 2's reply.
French magistrate Judge Christophe Regnard in his report states that the metal strip played a 'direct role' in the accident.
Think the French have now officially bitten off more than they can chew.

14th Dec 2004, 15:19
Strange (or perhaps not so strange, after all;)) that the French have so clearly forgotten the role of the Flight Engineer in the Concorde, with his propensity of pulling the fire handle of an operating engine, thereby sealing the fate of the big delta-winged bird.

But then again, the French are being...well, typically French.:uhoh:

14th Dec 2004, 15:44
There were many holes lined up in many slices of cheese for this one to happen. I won't comment on my opinion as to what was the primary contributor- as everyone else has been. I will say that rather than punishment, I think it is interesting that no one is looking at "the easiest way to make sure this doesn't happen again". Surely we should learn, change and move on.

Any takers?

I did want to take up LatviaCalling's posting Following the AF Concorde story when it happened and post factum postings, there seemed to be a general agreement that the runway should have been cleared of any debris after each heavy took off, and especially before a Concorde took off. According to all those pages and posts, this was not done. I don't remember who said it, but the gist was that almost every heavy aircraft loses something on takeoff. Therefore the snuff patrol, but the main point is that before every Concorde takeoff the runway was to be clean. Somebody screwed up.

I work in airside operations and have reasonable knowledge of runway inspections policies and practices at about 9 airports in Europe and the US. I know of no such 'agreement' at any airport close to the size of CDG that the runway should be inspected after the take off of every heavy. Let alone this 'agreement' being rolled into any Aerodrome Safety Policies. The most prescriptive (in terms of quantitative measures) runway inspection policies I have seen are limited to "we will inspect the runway x times a day". I'm not saying that's right or wrong (although I am always looking for a better way of doing something)- in fact, every airport should do it's own risk assessment.

Just imagine what an inspection after every heavy would mean for an airport like LHR. That's an inspection every minute or two of nearly 13,000 ft of a strip of tarmac about 148 ft wide (often in the dark). As you increase the inspections you also need to account for the hazards you are introducing onto the runway- just think of all those vehicles you MIGHT have needed to find that strip of titanium! Again, I'm sure there's a better way of doing what CDG were doing on the day, but other posters have covered that.

14th Dec 2004, 16:48
OK, just imagine a scenario here. Bear with me - I'm not trying the defend or attack anyone here - I'm just trying to put a different perspective on this discussion.

Imaging there's this chap called Kevin the boy-racer. One day, Kevin is cleaning his beloved Ford XR3i Turbo nob-mobile, when he notices that the rear bumper has worked loose. Rather than go to Ford and pay for some new brackets, he decides to fudge something together in his garage, using bits of old scrap metal.

Pleased that he can now buy some more speakers with the money he has saved by not buying the proper brackets, he goes out for a razz around town late that evening.

Whilst driving down a 70mph dual carriageway, the home-made brackets work loose and the bumper falls off. Unfortunately, Kevin has got his music on, so he doesn't hear the bumper fall off.

A few miles behind him is a woman, returning from visiting relatives, with her two children in the car. It's dark, so the woman doesn't see the bumper lying in the road, but as she hits it it bursts her tyres, and she spins off at 70mph and tragically hits a tree. Both her and her children are fatally injured.

So. Who's fault was this accident?

Is it the boy racer, for not using the proper parts, or do you simply say "sh!t happens" ?

In the concorde crash, there were several contributing factors, the Continental strip being one of them. If any one of them had not happened, the accident would not have occured.

The way the French are isolating just the CO strip is not acceptable. They should hold the other factors EQUALLY accountable.

That said, nobody can argue that if CONTINENTAL had used ALUMINIUM instead of TITANIUM (as per the manufacturers instructions), THIS INCIDENT WOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED.

14th Dec 2004, 18:33
I wonder if we would all feel differently had that bit of metal fallen off a bit later on?

It might have landed harmlessly and caused no damage.

It might have come down in a school playground killing a child or two?

Should the penalty be different depending on the unpredictable outcome and if so why?

Perhaps the penalty should always be high because the outcome could be serious even if it isn't always? Drunk drivers don't always kill people.

14th Dec 2004, 19:05
I would like to mention in this discussion that after recently talking to the lead AAIB investigator in the initial report, which too blamed the titanium strip, they were right with their French colleges at the BEA in agreeing that their sequence of events was correct.

After all the technical accident investigation was a joint effort. Both the AAIB and the BEA were given a hard time doing their job by the French judicial system and their parallel report (published today)

The only 2 things they disagree on were noted in the original report, the exact source of ignition. the Uk giys said it was the landing gear brake fan power leads arcing and the the way the tank failed. The French believe in the shock-wave, the UK believe an a similar model but say it may have been punctured with debris to the side of where the main failure was, therefore causing the failure.

Lets put the spacer to rest for once and for all.

Up until the point where the aircraft hit the strip, the aircraft was dead straight on the run way with no steering or rudder inputs to keep it straight has the bogie been mis-aligned. In fact if you look at the FDR trace there is a slight bit of rudder to compensate in the completely opposite direction.

When the aircraft hit the strip, the tank ruptured and the fuel caught alight. Both engines on that side then surged and had zero power output. this caused the aircraft to veer over and and clip the runway light after rotation.

None of the reports go into detail on the what ifs thats not what they do.

Had the No2 engine not been shut down, it would have in a likely hood failed in a similar way to the No1 did 60-90 seconds later due to the fire in that area killing control systems. If they had been able, with the gear down, to get enough airspeed before these both failed is very debatable. Vzrc for 2 engines with gear down was over 300knots.

Maybe they could have got enough speed up to detach the flame, but the damage it was doing was massive. Their only option was no come back to CDG - am emergency landing Le Bourget was never going to have been achievable, if the aviators amoungs us look at the flight tracks.

14th Dec 2004, 19:07
I just saw this in a Belgium News Paper, I try to translate it and resumee it, you find the original one in french at:

Sorry for my bad inglish!!!javascript:smilie(':confused:')
In brief it say:
1) A original default discovered in 1979 and not resolve is one of the cause of the accident. The judge authorise french autorities to find why nothing was done in 1979 to resolve this default.
2) A little piece of metal from an DC10 Continental Airlines is also part of the accident. It seems that the replacement of the original part was not autorised by the FAA, and that the instalation was not properly done. For such reason, the judge will ear 5 people involved in this replacement, employee of CA (as I understood).
3) It also mention that it is posible that CA will be examn too.
4) The trainig of the crew is also mentioned and that the pilot rotate at a slow velocity and that the tecnician shut off the engine quiet prematurely. But question is made as, was there other solutions??


14th Dec 2004, 19:36
Do AF captains routinely give a 'Gallic shrug' to MTOW and, more importantly, RTOW values when clearly overweight?

First take the plank out of thine own eyes, my Froggy friends.......

Not impressed by AF risk management culture. So I don't pax with them.

14th Dec 2004, 19:59
Isn´t this verdict in the American spirit?
Why the blame policy? Unfortunately this seems to be the real world today. Money talks!

15th Dec 2004, 10:49
Imaging there's this chap called Kevin the boy-racer. One day, Kevin is cleaning his beloved Ford XR3i Turbo nob-mobile, when he notices that the rear bumper has worked loose. Rather than go to Ford and pay for some new brackets, he decides to fudge something together in his garage, using bits of old scrap metal.

Pleased that he can now buy some more speakers with the money he has saved by not buying the proper brackets, he goes out for a razz around town late that evening.

Whilst driving down a 70mph dual carriageway, the home-made brackets work loose and the bumper falls off. Unfortunately, Kevin has got his music on, so he doesn't hear the bumper fall off.

A few miles behind him is a woman, returning from visiting relatives, with her two children in the car. It's dark, so the woman doesn't see the bumper lying in the road, but as she hits it it bursts her tyres, and she spins off at 70mph and tragically hits a tree. Both her and her children are fatally injured.

So. Who's fault was this accident?

Is it the boy racer, for not using the proper parts, or do you simply say "sh!t happens" ?

A better example than the bumper would be a Semi (aka a Lorry for some of you) that constantly retreads its tyres and drives them beyond recommended specs until they burst. Burst semi tyres are a common road hazard -- they shouldn't be there, cause problems, need to be removed, and arise from questionable (but largely tolerated) maintenance procedures.

So Kevin the boy trucker blows a tyre and keeps going, not noticing it because he's got 17 other good ones.

Karen and her family come along in the dark and hit the blown tyre. While for a normal car, this would cause consternation, Karen's utlrasleek McLaren sports car has a design defect whereby if a tiny piece of rubber gets stuck in the intake, the engine overheats and the car catches fire. Flames shoot ouyt of the hood, and Karen's looking at a one-lane tunnel -- she can swerve and hit a tree, or go through the tunnel and try to stop on the other side. She eases off the gas, and drives into the tunnel, gradually losing sight and systems. Eventually, the steering cables are burned through, the car spins out, hits a couple of pedestrians and explodes.

Is it Kevin the Trucker's fault for using a questionable but tolerated maintenance procedure? Or is it MacLaren's fault for failing to rectify a known design problem? Or do you just say "tough luck".
If someone flicks a cigarette off a road bridge, and it lands in the bed of a dumptruck hauling black gunpowder, the smoke is clearly guilty of littering. Is he also guilty of homicide? Or could he have had a reasonable expectation that vehicles certified for road transport had some sort of protection against common hazards, like lit cigarettes?

The distinction is between a trigger event and an underlying systemic failure. If the CO metal strip weren't there, would there have been a disaster on that day? Probably not. But there would have been a disaster sooner or later. All the other pieces were there; all it needed was a statiscally fairly common event. Unless, of course, you checked the runway for debris before every Concorde takeoff . (blowouts don't seem to pose as much of a threat to other A/C).

15th Dec 2004, 11:23
My tuppence worth.....

IMHO there are 3 main events here each that needs to be viewed both in relation to the other 2 events AND in isolation.

(1) The strip.... it will need to be established if this in fact came into contact with the tyre. (I understand the tyre damage fingerprint matched the shape of the strip).
If it IS the case that the strip was hit it then needs to be ascertained why the strip 'fell off' the CON a/c, ie was there any negligence in the way it was fitted. Dependent on the answers to this SOME of the culpability may be adjudged to lay with CON.

(2) The Aircraft.... regardless of how the strip came to be where it was, if the tyre DID strike it should or should not the aircraft be reasonably expected to cope with the incident. Here I'm sure the CON people will be asking why BA retrofitted mods whilst AF didn't. I'm very sure that the CON people will produce documents proving that engineering data that led BA to retrofit was shared with AF. Dependent on the answers to this SOME culpability may be adjudged to lay with AF

(3) The engine shut-down... Presumed 'false warning' - I'm not going to speculate.

15th Dec 2004, 11:35
In all fairness to the French just wanted to point out that all French news sources I've seen are stating that:
1. the metal strip on the runway from the CO DC 10, and
2. a fault in the design of the Concorde
were the main causes of this sad and unfortunate accident.

So the French authorities are NOT solely blaming CO, but also blaming the design of an aircraft they built themselves. So cool do mes amis with the attacks on France. And as some of you so correctly point out, Yes, the French are being very French... what else do you expect?

On a side note, I've only been living in France a couple of years and am still totally lost with the French legal system. There was a very interesting story running for a while a few months ago. Apparently somebody got drunk at a dinner party, and crashed his/her car after the dinner killing himself/herself and somebody else not with them (can't remember if it was people in another car, pedestrians)... So the French legal system brought the couple who hosted the dinner party to court claiming taht they shouldn't have permitted their gustes to drive home in a drunken state, and they were partly at fault for the incident... Just found it interesting and must say made me think.

Bonne journée...

15th Dec 2004, 16:43
From Airbus A380 Mega-liner - Weight Savings by Titanium (http://www.brightsurf.com/news/june_03/DGM_news_062403.html): Airbus aircraft has been using titanium alloys from the very beginning. Due to stringent weight considerations and increased performance requirements, the percentage of the titanium based alloys used in Airbus aircraft has raised from 5 % by weight in early models to about 9 % in the new A380 aircraft. These alloys are advantageous because of their unique combination of properties such as high strength-to-weight ratio and corrosion resistance, leading to applications in highly loaded areas, as, for example, wing sections, landing gear, flap track, and engine pylon. Their good corrosion resistance due to passivation, the stability at elevated temperatures and a good compatibility with carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) materials is positive, as well.

A variety of innovative applications in the A380 such as fitting bridges of the wing spoiler (Ti 10-2-3 plate material) will be manufactured of titanium alloys. The seat tracks in wet areas will probably be joined by laser beam welding of Ti 6-4 sheets and plates or, alternatively, be made of extruded profiles. The bleed air system will be manufactured of pure titanium sheets and partly of Ti 15-3-3-3 alloy as well. Thus, the maximum temperature will reach increased values of 245ÂC. The duct diameter will be enlarged to 230 mm. So it's fairly obvious that titanium is common in the airport environment, and it's clear that like all metal it is subject to fatigue so it can crack and pieces can be dropped on runways. I don't see what the difference between a crash caused by an authorized piece of titanium versus an unauthorized piece of titanium, probably because I do not think like a lawyer does. In either case, the titanium is just as hard, and so severe tire damage must be dealt with. BA did so, by installing deflectors and by limiting tire wear. AF did nothing, even though it knew of tire damage had lead to fuel tank leaks in the past. The fixes applied after the crash are a tacit admission that FOD was not preventable and the Concorde needed strengthening.

15th Dec 2004, 21:14
Of course the missing wheel spacer had nothing to do with it...engineering tests that proved otherwise were "inconvienent" huh?

15th Dec 2004, 21:16

As i am doing my master thesis in alloy physic I feel obliged to post a reply.

There is are huge difference, between different alloys made with Titanium.

An alloy itself is a mixture of different metalls which but together have a totally different density and property, than every single component on its own.
You can get a huge amount of different titanium alloys which all have a totally different characteristc and density.

So even if airbus is using titanium alloys, it dosnt mean that its the same alloy that hit the concorde.

(Although given the lack of information that i have it could even be.)

Hope my message made sense and please excuse my english, it has been a long time since i last wrote something in english.

15th Dec 2004, 21:33
The RTOW for that day with no wind was 185'070 kg.

The loadsheet TOW was 184'880 kg. This TOW was based on 2000 kg burn of taxi fuel.

1) Concorde on that day, according to BEA, burned 1000 kg on the taxiway. (800 Kg according to the F/E when challenged by the Captain as they line up on the runway)

2) 19 bags were missing on the loadsheet: an other 394 kg extra according to BEA

AF used the standard 84 kg weight for all pax, which was the most penalizing weight for that day. (Terrible safety culture...)
With these weight, and because of the bags error and the generous taxi fuel, Concorde was 1'181 kg overweight (0,6% of RTOW)
If you use the standard weight for male and female (88 and 70 kg) this will reduce the payload and the overweight was 687 kg. (0,35% of RTOW)

The wind at T/O time was 020/3 at the threshold 26 and 300/3 at the threshold 08. The tower mention 090/8 with the T/O clearance

I do believe that all these little errors were a contributing factors when you add them up.

AF or the arrogant French are not the only one in this world to play with taxi fuel to meet an RTOW or to make loadsheet errors on bags. My company, which is the second biggest British airline, is doing that everyday, (unintentionnaly of course)

"Take the plank out of thine own eyes" as somebody mention:rolleyes:

15th Dec 2004, 22:58
A still air wind velocity was used to calculate a RTOW of 185070kg?

What would the real RTOW have been with a wind of 090/8 as passed by ATC?

What was the crew's reaction to the difference between these two values?

16th Dec 2004, 10:37
Yes, RTOW was for no wind. The addition of tailwind, plus the slight overweight, plus the spacer missing were all contributing factors to the crash.

If you read the CVR, the Captain asked the F/E about taxi fuel used as they were lining up on the runway. The F/E answer was "800 KG", which means that the Captain was fully aware that they didn't burned as much as expected and consequently were slightly overweight. The First Officer answer was then: "No changes on 2nd segment limitation".
Obviously none of them mention anything about the tailwind condition.
Now, if they were 1000 kg less, with a 5kts headwind, would the outcome been different ? I don't think so.
Finally some people think that the F/E shutdown a good engine on his own: wrong. He said to the Captain:"engine failure number 2" and then he suggested "Shut down number 2". At that stage, number 2 N1 was 5% with a Fire Warning. The Captain then, instructed the F/E to carry on the Engine Fire drill, a bit too early according to AF procedure.
Expert like us can easyly find some little errors on the procedure, either fom the airline or the crew. We have hours and lot of information to look at while the pilot had much less info and more important only a few second to decide what to do.

The cause of the crash is the piece of metal AND a Concorde design problem and not the crew action or loading procedure, even if we can all learn from being complacent on numbers some time.
The problem with the Continental piece of metal is that it was an unapproved part unproperly fit. This is why AF had a good argument to sue.

16th Dec 2004, 15:47
fear_not: So even if airbus is using titanium alloys, it dosnt mean that its the same alloy that hit the concorde.

(Although given the lack of information that i have it could even be.)

Hope my message made sense and please excuse my english, it has been a long time since i last wrote something in english.Your writing is excellent. Thanks for making the effort. I wish I could write in a second language.

It would be interesting to know if titianium strips could break off of other places on commercial jetliners. I quoted the article because it shows titanium is found on the exterior of the aircraft (tracks for flaps, landing gear parts, wing sections, etc). Presumably fatigue could cause strips to break off. It's also found in the fan blades for jet turbines, and these are known to break from time to time.

A lot has been made of the fact that the CON DC-10 had an unauthorized titanium wear strip installed. But even though it triggered the accident, it's really irrelevant. As I said in my previous post, I don't see what the difference between a crash caused by an authorized piece of titanium versus an unauthorized piece of titanium. The fact is that titanium is a common material used on aircraft and the engineers must prepare for FOD damage As you say, different alloys have different characteristics, so engineers must prepare for the worst case. BA understood the risk from tire bursts and installed deflectors to help mitigate it. AF chose to not do so.


16th Dec 2004, 17:20

None of your posts mention the incorrectly assembled main wheel bogey, which would have added rolling drag and heated the tyres.

Is this an inconvenience, because it might deflrct blame from CO to AF?

16th Dec 2004, 21:21
I don’t understand how some of you can say that Continental has no responsibility in this accident?
Every accident has a root cause and in this case it is the object that fell of the Continental plane. After the root cause is a number of other issues that:
a) Sadly made the effects of the root cause worse. (Overweight, spacer, etc)
Or b) Should have limited the effects of the root cause and following issues but where unable to do so. (tyre exploding in large pieces instead of small, tank leaking after being hit, etc)
Whoever is behind the a) and b) problems also share in the responsibility but they never free whoever was responsible for the root cause, not even when the root cause was unintentional and something that happens often.

16th Dec 2004, 22:05
Well, no one argues about the root cause of the accident, but one can argue that the root cause should not have caused the accident.

I'll exaggerate to explain.

Suppose the Concorde wings fell off every time it rained. One could say to avoid an accident, never expose the Concorde to rain. But someone else could say that the Concorde should be able to fly through rain, and if it cannot, then it is not designed correctly.

Here I'm saying the Concorde needed to be tolerant of tire bursts, even from FOD as opposed to tire wear, regardless of the source of the FOD. FOD is a part of airline operations, much like rain is. BA knew previous tire bursts had punctured the fuel tanks and had fitted deflectors to mitigate this risk, but AF had not.


17th Dec 2004, 00:39
Air France was grossly negligent in not fitting the deflectors, so as to avoid all forseen difficulties.

Not unforseen either, as BA clearly had forseen the likely problems, and did something about it, whereas Air France, with its head in the sand, turned a blind eye to the problem.

Case closed.:mad:

Bomber Harris
17th Dec 2004, 00:50
DingerX, I detect from your posting you have some experience in a 'certain' field!! Very nice summary put in laymans terms. First poster to hit the nail on the head, IMHO!! Maybe the others will talk 'percentages' now!!!

17th Dec 2004, 02:24
As you know there is no way to design a plane, or anything else, so it can withstand any kind of abuse you throw at it. You design it to handle all reasonable expectable abuse and then you add a safety margin on top of that.

Based on your reasoning the question then is if it was reasonable to expect there to be something that was strong enough to effectively scalp the tyre in to a 3 m piece of high speed debris instead of making it explode in to small pieces as they expected and Concorde had been designed (modified) to handle.

Since BA’s Concorde engineers seems to agree that their deflectors would not have been able to contain such a large piece and the outcome would have been the same even with them I find it hard to assign responsibility to AF for this.

You tried using a different case so let’s use the case when CX dropped a piece on a car in Bangkok earlier this month. Was it CX for dropping the piece, or the car manufacturer for not building a car strong enough to withstand something that heavy who was responsible?
I believe it was CX. May be some can be shared with one or more of Boeing, RR and any maintenance companies who had worked on it but it was CX who was in charge of maintaining it so that nothing got dropped and thus they are responsible.

I got in to this thread because there are a lot of people here that thinks Continental has no responsibility in what happened. Per the opening post Continental sad “We strongly disagree that anything Continental did was the cause of the Concorde accident……” thus not wanting to take any responsibility for what happened after they, very unfortunately, lost a part of questionable spec from one of their planes.

From what I have learned from reading and talking to people with an understanding of Concorde and the accident Continental played a very unfortunate but important role and should take their part of the responsibility. The other things that also failed may reduce their part but can never remove it.

17th Dec 2004, 08:01
OK cmf, what if the spacer had been fitted, and RTOW had not been ignored. The piece of titanium would still be on the runway, but would concord have hit it? Had ADP checked the runway more often, and at a speed below their usual 60 mph plus, would it have been there.

You can't single out one root cause here, unless you have an agenda.

17th Dec 2004, 10:58
Ark royal,

I did mention the incorrect wheel assembly as "the missing spacer" in my post.

AF should not deflect the blame to CO, but should give CO a fair share of responsablity. If the metal strip would have been an approved part, fitted according approved maintenance procedure,
CO would have walk away "clean" from this accident.

AF will take the major part of the blame due to:

1) Failure to comply to the 1979 BEA recommendation to consolidated wings tank

2) Acft over weight for the condition of the day

3) Incorrect maintenance practice (wheel assembly)

4) F/E licence expired.

Even if the last 3 points had very little incidence on the crash it demonstrate poor standard practice.

AF choose not to installed the deflector on the main wheel for the following reason: in case of tyre burst these deflectors could broke apart and be a more serious hazard to wing tank than piece of rubber.
As cmf mention, even BA's engineer agree with the fact that deflector wouldn't contain large piece or tyre. BA fitted the deflectors with cables to prevent them to hit a wing tank in case of tyre burst. Nobody knows if these cables would have do the job.

To the attention of the few idiots on these forum, some technical choices had nothing to do with "French style" or "arrogance" or whatever. What would you say if a deflector was the cause of a crash by piercing the wing tank ?
AF took, what they believed, the safest decision regarding the deflectors.
As Danny mentionned in the beginning of this discussion, leave the xenophobic comment away from this forum, or we can start discussing about the British Railways system which kill people every year in crash, or the NHS who made the headline every week about terrible blunders. "Failure" had nothing to do with nationality ...

17th Dec 2004, 15:47
OK, acm, let us for the moment agree with your comments re: the French and Air France.

On the other hand, BA decided that the deflectors were indeed a good idea, and fitted same to their Concorde aircraft.

What could have been the exact reason AF choose not to do so, when clearly the fitment of the deflectors enhanced safety to a rather large degree.

It is a bit like an airline not incorporating a service bulletin on an aircraft, then later having an incident...and the lawyers in court asking..."well then, just why did you not consider compliance, when other airlines clearly thought it was a good idea, and haven't had similar incidents as a result?"

Sadly, apparently the deflectors were not mandatory, so we can cast a few brickbats at the regulators as well...

IF there is any doubt, 'err on the side of safety...every damn time, IMO.

17th Dec 2004, 18:36
If that plane would have crashed that day even if the tyre had not been shredded by the titanium strip then Continental does not share in the responsibility.
From the reports I have seen the single event (root) that triggered all following events was the strip that should not have fallen off from the Continental plane. Had that strip not been on the runway then none would have happened and none of us would know that they took of a little bit overweight and with a spacer problem etc.
This is why Continental has a large responsibility and should earn up to what they, unintentionally and with large amounts of bad luck, triggered.

17th Dec 2004, 19:35
You are right in saying that the inital trigger event was hitting the metal strip, but there are still other factors. It has been stated by some in this thread that the runway should have been inspected prior to departure, while others have said that such an inspection prior to every departure would have been problamatic, given the traffic out of CDG. Two points to be made:

1. Out of all of the aircraft that departed CDG, only one type was especially vunerable to tire failure, the Concorde. I would assume that Air France would do all that it could to ensure that the runway was clear of any debris, given the track record of the aircraft receiveing significant damage from tire failure.

2. I would be willing to bet that there were no more than 2 or 3 Concorde departures on any given day from any airport. Since schedules are known in advance, I do not see where scheduling an runway inspection immediately prior to a Concorde departure would have been that problamatic, and I wonder why it wasn't part of everyday airport operations.

Parts will always fall off airplanes, as well as any other vehicle that travels on the runways. I see the primary failure here as not recognizing that this aircraft represented significantly more risk during departures, and the airlines that operated it did not arrange for specific operational procedures to mitigate that risk at the airports they serviced.

17th Dec 2004, 19:45
Well, cmf, it is a known fact that bits and pieces fall off aeroplanes from time to time, whether properly engineered and fit, or not.

So, why not paint all airlines with the same broad brush, and find 'em guilty because...sh!t happens.

Bits came off the Concorde rudder, on several occasions, and could well have hit a ship at sea, injuring a few, yet I see no concerted attack on Concorde operators about this.

Clearly the Commander of the concerned aircraft departed slightly overweight, considering the prevailing wind conditions, with a wheel spacer improperly fitted (altho he would have no idea about this), yet somehow Continental is responsible for the whole shebang because a small bit fell off their previously departing aircraft, on the day in question.

Phooey, I say, because IF this is all it took to bring the big delta-winged bird down, than just as clearly, the original design was deficient to begin with...at least BA did something to alliviate the potential problem (deflectors), yet AF chose not to do so.
AF is guilty as hell, make no mistake.

Of course, the French authorties may well have a different idea about all this.......what a surprise.:yuk:

I can well remember BOAC sitting at the end of 25L in LAX so many years ago, with their 707 conway powered machine (enroute LHR) mentioning...'ah, we will have to delay takeoff just a bit, due to a short taxy...sorry'.
Clearly these folks had the right idea, what's Air France's excuse?

17th Dec 2004, 20:57
It is also a known fact that a lot of drivers in Miami drive against red lights, does that mean that the driver having the green light is responsible? Does it matter if the car having the green light was overloaded or had one bad break pad?

No, it will be the driver who didn’t stop for the red light that will be paying for the damages. If he is lucky no-one got hurt but if he is very unfortunate and someone got killed then the consequences will be dramatically more severe for the same mistake.

BA / AF where lucky that nothing got hit when pieces of Concorde fell off. Can you imagine what demands they would face if it hit a couple of kids in NY?

17th Dec 2004, 21:26
Regarding liability, the essential point is that the titatium-alloy strip was a non-certified, non-approved part, that was installed completely half-assed. Many of you are looking at the failure from the wrong-end of the equation (an 'a posteriori' view)... presuming that since any part COULD fall off, therefore ANY part that falls should be equally without liability. You simply can't make that presupposition. You have to look at it with an 'a priori' view. If an airline installs something non-certified, where it's just "fudged" to make it work or fit, then the fact is it's reliabiliy is (dramatically) less and is mathematically much more probable to fail. An airline should know that, as should any mechanic. Either they DID know that... or SHOULD have ... either way is, by definition, negligence.

To NOT hold Continental responsible (at least partially), the resulting logic would mean you've opened up the acceptability of doing whatever you want, willy-nilly, when it comes to installation of non-standard (self-manufactured) parts, and I'm sure no one wants that.

17th Dec 2004, 22:44
On the other hand, we can't have Commanders knowingly departing overweight...nor can we have airline engineering staff assembling wheels with missing spacers either.

Sauce for the goose/gander...and all that.:yuk:

18th Dec 2004, 01:31
On the other hand, we can't have Commanders knowingly departing overweight...nor can we have airline engineering staff assembling wheels with missing spacers either.

Fully agree, but some may feel that it is OK since it happens from time to time ;)

I think AF should get their rear warmed up because of what was discovered in the investigation but it probably belongs to a different topic than “Continental may be charged for Concorde Crash (Press Report).”

18th Dec 2004, 18:06
The actual wind at the closest anemometer (sp) to the take off point has the wind at ZERO knots - The AAIB and BEA therefore were happy to conclude that the wind was not an issue that day.

BA were told to de-mod the spray guards post accdient to the unmodified AF standard, so they were definately not a factor.

The bogie beam spacer has been rulled out time and time again. The aircraft was perfectly straight on the runway until it hit the strip, with no correction being put in to corerect for the way it would move if the gear had not been parallel - this is in the FDR charts that are downloadable from the BEA website.

2 engines going to zero % at the same time has never even been simulated on Concorde - this caused her to veer over. we're not talking about running down to zero, were looking at 100% to 0% in a couple of seconds, when they surged with the explosion.

18th Dec 2004, 20:43
gordonroxburgh, if the wind passed to the crew with their take-off clearance was substantially different to that used for their take-off performance calculations, then they should at the very least have discussed the matter.

A scenario I used many times when instructing on the VC10. The crew were given a forecast wind (260/15) and ATIS (280/12); however, whilst waiting at the holding point on a short RW 26 they also heard other traffic being cleared to land with a significantly different wind (350/5). If they didn't query the effect of the wind, then we'd stop the exercise and debrief the point...

But if a line Concorde crew didn't carry out such a basic "Is RTOW still valid?" check prior to commencing their take-off, then something was very wrong with their training.

19th Dec 2004, 00:03
Well, I consider that it was inevitable that this accident happened. There were five other incidents where tire bursts led to fuel tank punctures. The data was there to see that a catastrophe was inevitable. The data was analyzed and the wrong conclusion was reached. It's just like the case of frozen insulation hitting the wing of the Space Shuttle. It doesn't matter exactly which piece of insulation hit the wing, the fact is the accident was ineveitable and nothing was done. I feel that in the case of Concorde, the ones truly responsible are grasping for something to deflect the blame. In the case of NASA, they have no such second party to blame.

If the need to resist FOD was not the real root cause of the catastrophe, then why was the airworthiness withdrawn till the airplane was reinforced? Otherwise, a different direction would have been taken. We would have airplane inspectors stationed at inspection stations at the aiport, making sure every piece of metal on the exterior of the airplane was secure, and we would have very frequent runway inspections to verify they were free of debris.

The example of a part of an airplane falling off and hitting an auto is not a proper example. The automobile is not expected to operate safely in the presence of falling debris. The airplane is expected to operate safely in the presence of FOD on the runway, just like the shuttle is expected to operate correctly in the environment it is launched in.

Thanks to everyone for the (generally) excellent level of discourse in this thread. I suspect we won't ever see eye to eye on it, but I have learned a lot from the discussion.


19th Dec 2004, 00:39

The AAIB in the Uk and the BEA in France were happy that the wind played no factor in the accident, it was so low it was simply not a factor.

I put it to you that the wind that day at CDG was swirling round, the crew from their briefings knew that. so when they got a tail wind component from the tower it really did not even pass a thought, as they knew instinctively what the weather conditions were and that the wind in fact was light.

I sat in on a lecture by the lead UK investigator recently; now we can point the finger all we wnat at the official report, but it was it was conducted as a joint UK/French investigation, with the judicial review running in parallel causing all sorts of hassle. Now if the AAIB said the report IS what happened, I think we got to believe it and stop all the supposition. We can accuse the French of cover ups etc..but if the UK top dogs back the findings, well maybe we got to think that the report is in fact correct.

The report does not go into the what ifs - no accident report will EVER do this, nor will it EVER apportion blame.

yes somethings happened that should not have, but as far as the main chain of events goes, the reports are correct and it was going to be a bad day form the moment she hit that Titanium, no matter what the weight was , no matter what the crew did.

I want to reenforce the point again - the BEA and AAIB both are in complete agreement that the take off run was 100% normal up until the titanium was hit. Now the judicial investigation also backs this up

Only disagreements the AAIB had with the BEA are, (which are listed in an appendix), was the physical way the tank failed form the inside out (both agree this was what happened, but not how it happened) and how the fuel was ignited (the French not 100% happy that the AAIB model was 100% accurate to prove it was lit by the 110V supply to the brake fans which was arc'ing

19th Dec 2004, 08:19
gordonroxburgh, as I wrote earlier:

"A still air wind velocity was used to calculate a RTOW of 185070kg?

What would the real RTOW have been with a wind of 090/8 as passed by ATC?

What was the crew's reaction to the difference between these two values?"

Why did they not even discuss the change to RTOW? OK, the wind itself may not have been a causal factor per se - but this failure may have been indcative of AF crew and CRM standards....

19th Dec 2004, 09:40
....the wind itself may not have been a causal factor per se - but this failure may have been indcative of AF crew and CRM standards....

I agree, these casual factors are mentioned in the report for this purpose. AF's training is was not what it should have been as noted in the judicial investigation.

19th Dec 2004, 12:41
I have to go with ElectroVlasic on this one. I remain appalled that a burst tyre -- by whatever cause -- could have such a catastrophic result.

Given that such incidents were not without precedence, and that the other operator had taken measures to remedy same, AF's wish to blame CO is simply a misguided attempt to disavow its own negligence in the matter.

19th Dec 2004, 17:00
and that the other operator had taken measures to remedy same

Nothing BA did would have prevented this incident, only mod was strengthened spray guards on the BA fleet, whcih as I said previsosly were de-moded for the return to service. This is why the BA fleet was grounded too.

AF are not blaming CO, the Judicial investigation are for the botched repair.

Concorde should have been grouned, as a tyre bust can't cause an aircraft to fall out of the sky. A change to operating proceedures (eg runway sweep),would possibly have been sufficent, with the thinking that Concorde was not going to be around for more that 5-10 year longer anyway and there were not that many flights

The new Michelin tyres would have solved all the issues, at the time may felt the Dunlop's used by BA may have been more resiliant that AF's Goodyear's

You all must remeber that it was the type of burst that caused the problem due to the nature of the strip, hence the blame for CO, or their nominated contractor.

20th Dec 2004, 08:44
This topic will go on and on and on.

Some people on here would prefer to blame Air France, rather than accept the only factor that was 100% definately a direct contribution to the accident was the NON APPROVED repair by Continental, using NON APPROVED materials.

Other things MAY have been a factor (and are duly mentioned in the official report as CASUAL FACTORS), but then again they may NOT. The ONE AND ONLY factor that was definately a cause was the strip.

Now you can waffle on all you like about the fact that bits fall of airplanes all the time, and yes - they do - but the fact is that this particular bit was infinatelty more likely to have fallen off because it was NON APPROVED. It was also the wrong type of material, which made the damage to the tyre far worse than if it had been the approved material

If the strip of metal on that runway had been an approved strip, and had been installed properly, then CO would not be liable. But then again, the accident would PROBABLY not have occured, because the PROPER strip would have been made from Aluminium not Titanium, and PROBABLY wouldn't have caused the tyre to break up in the way that it did, so the fuel burst would have been far less severe (as per the previous incidents with Conc)

This is what the official joint UK AAIB and French BEA report says. This has nothing to do with AF wanting to point the finger elsewhere. Accept it - they know far more about it that you do!

20th Dec 2004, 08:44
If CO lose this case, what are the operational consequences for the aviation community? Anyone causing FODebris could be found liable in the event of an incident?

It might be said "yes, but this strip was not approved, it should never had been used". In fact, it has been mentioned that the workmanship is as much the cause for concern as its non-approval is.
and had been installed properly
However, the fact the strip was on the runway and no longer on the plane could be a failure any legal team would zero in on, whether the part was approved or not.

Does anyone here have any idea how much FODebris you were to find if you were to walk down any major airport runway?

I'm not saying that we should tolerate FOD, but airport operating practices would have to change hugely in order to monitor, clean and police FODebris and its creation. Who should pay for that change? Are we saying that ICAO should tighten up its runway inspection standards?

Ok, so for CDG to have this duty carried out by a dedicated safety team would be progress (and something which most sizeable UK airports do already), but the procedures needed to have spotted this strip would have to have been intense. Not easy without introducing extra hazards into the operating environment or discruptions to operations which would render some current airports untenable.

20th Dec 2004, 08:55
Actually, speaking of FoD, it reminds me of an incident at a local GA airfield a while ago.

The local firecrew arrived in the morning and did their start of day checks, including a full runway inspection. They gave the "all-clear" and signed the sheet off, before going to the canteen for their breakfast.

Tower got a call shortly after from the first departing aircraft of the day, saying "there is an object on the runway".

Tower turned the firecrew out, who duly "discovered" a dead cow (stone cold) slap bang in the middle of the runway intersection!:O

How on earth they'd missed it, nobody knows!

20th Dec 2004, 09:29
Does anyone here have any idea how much FODebris you were to find if you were to walk down any major airport runway?

As one who has done this many times, yes.

Also as one who has overseen system safety analysis I can tell you that it was unforseen and extremely unlikely that one could have forseen the consequences of the existance of the object.

I'll admit that tort law in france belongs to their judges and none of us may influence their progression along these lines, however the regulatory administration of the rules governing safety of flight may and have approached this from a different perspective.

20th Dec 2004, 09:30
Far be it from me to argue with the unquestionable authority of capitals and bold text, but the metal strip was not by a long shot the "one and only factor that was definately (sic) a cause." There's plenty of causes, and there are plenty of non-approved procedures in this accident, just as in any other one. The difficulty lies in identifying the full causal chain, excluding red herrings (such as the non-factor of wind), and apportioning responsibility.

As for the fuel leak goes, the total flight hours logged by all Concordes was about 300,000 with something on the order of 100,000 cycles. The 737-300 annually logs something like 3 million flight hours in over 2 million cycles. So if the Concorde flew as much as the 737-300 (excluding other variants), blowout incidents with damage would occur daily and twice a week we'd have a punctured fuel tank as a result. How many times that fuel hits something hot or arcing is anybody's guess.
If a smoker chucks a lit cigarette butt off a motorway overpass, he's certainly littering. But if it lands in the bed of a dumptruck hauling black gunpowder in contravention of accepted safety practices, do we charge that smoker with manslaughter?

20th Dec 2004, 12:09
The defenition of the causal factor, is the single event in the chain, which if removed would avoid the accident. The only such factor in this accident is the strip.

If the strip hadn't fallen off the CO aircraft, there would have been NO accident. FACT.

Name any other factor in this incident that was 100% directly a cause :

Wind? No. Even if there had been a 10kt headwind, the accident would still have occured. The report confirms that the actual wind was ~0 kts.

Operating practices? No. Despite the crew not following SOPs to the letter (understandable to a degree, given the circumstances), the accident would have happened anyway. Nothing they did (or didn't do) could have rescued the airplane.

Overweight? No. Even if the a/c had been a little bit lighter, the accident would still have happened. The report made reference to the Vzrc with 2 engines inop. can't remember the exact figure, but it was way above their achievable speed, given their lack of altitude.

Maintenance? No. Even if the u/c spacer had not been missing, the accident would still have happened. The FDR proves that the track was centreline.

Wheel deflectors? No. The report confirmed that BAs water deflectors would not have prevented the accident. (in face, they were removed by BA following the accident).

Yes, we all agree that Wind, OPs and weight MAY have been a factor, and may have contributed to the accident, and it important to acknowledge that these things should not have happened, but that doesn't mean they were the cause of the accident.

Like I said before, it is very unfortunate that CO were using unapproved techniques and unapproved materials to do the repair. If they had stuck to the approved repair, then chances are the strip wouldn't have fallen off.

If a smoker chucks a lit cigarette butt off a motorway overpass, he\'s certainly littering. But if it lands in the bed of a dumptruck hauling black gunpowder in contravention of accepted safety practices, do we charge that smoker with manslaughter?

That's a bit of a silly argument really.

If a man drives his car whilst fractionally over the Drink Driving limit and someone runs out right in front of his car and winds up dead, who would you want to charge with manslaughter?

If you break the rules and something goes wrong, you\'re in the firing line. As simple as that.

20th Dec 2004, 14:36
I recieved a Christmas this morning. Before you rush to congratulate me, what I wanted to point out is that on the back it says "WARNING: May contain small parts and/or sharp points/edges." It's a plain card. No fancy bits. The world is going mad.

I wonder if this is a notice we will see adjacent to all runway clearance bar lights in the near future?

21st Dec 2004, 11:13

I suspect the dead cow you mention was unauthorised cargo that fell out of an overflying CO aircraft.

Gordon Roxburgh and others?

Is it possible for the track to be straight yet the undercart shimmying to a degree so that the nett effect is still a straight line but the the tyre sidewalls overstressed?

That could account for the tyre bursting without hitting the strip.

21st Dec 2004, 11:19
I believe that the investigation managed to definitely show that the primary tyre failure matched the shape of the FOD strip.

21st Dec 2004, 15:19
Just reading up the page a bit.

Whilst I accept that the French and the British 'authorities' agreed. . .

Whilst setting one hell of a precedent, it is not entirely unknown for governments and their departments to collude.

'Iraq definitely possesses WMD and can deploy them in xx minutes' - to name but one.

I daresay that's Continental's fault too.

I also daresay that 'they' know a lot more than we do. And I must admit THAT's the bit that bothers me.

The days are long gone where I believe everything I'm told by 'the Authorities'.

After all this air has been pushed around at 37 degrees Celsius, the only people that will benefit WILL be lawyers and the Media (Expense Accounts and the like whilst covering the litigation circus).

22nd Dec 2004, 16:36
WWPU Life has a funny habit of never being quite as simple as we would like, or imagine it to be.