View Full Version : Did the pilot originally scheduled to fly [i]that[/i] Concorde refuse?

21st Aug 2001, 01:29
Have just heard a suggestion that the pilot originally scheduled to fly the Air France Concorde that crashed at Gonesse on 25 July 2000 refused because it was so badly overweight?

Anyone know any more about this?

Anyone know anything about a report by 'Ordinex' or who they are?

Anyone know any more about why the accident report rejected theories about the missing spacer, the overweight aircraft, the CofG being too far aft, the engine ingesting lumps of runway light, the FE shutting down the No.2 engine without being asked even as contributory factors?

Can anyone calmly and rationally explain why the 'Single Cause' (tyres and vulnerable fuel tank) explanation is OK, and why ignoring these other factors is sensible?

If there is good reason, I'd love to have my mind put at rest... but otherwise....

The Guvnor
21st Aug 2001, 01:35
... and can anyone explain why BA implemented ADs relating to tyre-bursts puncturing fuel tanks and Air France didn't?

I'd have thought that would have been the most pertinent question - or is it simply a case of economic expediency winning over safety at Air France again? :eek: :rolleyes: :eek:

21st Aug 2001, 01:38
www.ordinex.net/a-index.html (http://www.ordinex.net/a-index.html) . The 'International Organisation of Experts', apparently. Couldn't find anything listed about the Concorde accident; perhaps you'd need to contact them directly?

21st Aug 2001, 17:24
& what about the cg?

21st Aug 2001, 17:58
My sources seem to suggest KISS. Rocking the boat helps no-one. :rolleyes:

A7E Driver
21st Aug 2001, 18:27
Oh God. Another cover-up/conspiracy. Is it true that the Space Shuttle's particle beam weapon accidently targetted the Concorde?

21st Aug 2001, 18:38

I've read (at least) part of the scrupuleous work made by the Sun's (or the Mirror) journalits on the Concorde crash (fortunately, there's scrupuleous and serious journalists as the Sun's (or the Mirror's) ones are well known for, to make the investigations while the professionals experts botched it)
and :
I) J.C. Marty was the scheduled pilot for this flight, and came for it from the "Cote d'Azur" were he lived
All the other stuff is of this water: aproximations or occasionally pure lear:
exemple: the "unofficial investigation" blame the pilot for having made the rotation well above the nominal VR (Rotation speed), if you take the time to read the Concorde-FDR informations, in the BEA web site, you'll soon see than the Concorde began his rotation at 200 Kts, the nominal VR
IE: the above blame is pure lear...And the whole thing is of this sort of stuff....

MGloff :mad:

21st Aug 2001, 18:50

The circumstances you mention were all contributory factors but none in isolation precipitated the accident.

- The overweight issue generated by ATOW together with the tailwind and some 'hidden' fuel.

-The CG position being aft of the optimum

All served to make the handling of a single EFATO at it's most demanding - Although probably not outside the capability of the aircraft.

The pilot did not use full rudder to control the yaw - we don't really know why but it was not a causal factor.

The F/E evidently (uncommanded) did shut down a poorly looking but still running engine at or about Vr. Subsequently the other engine on the same side failed.

2 engines out on the left means no gear retract, means no acceleration, means they were dead from that moment on.

Go bless 'em

21st Aug 2001, 19:35
Captain Marty was alway scheduled to fly the service.

What was not originaly scheduled was for F-BTSC to make the flight. F-BVFA was set to do the morning flight to JFK with F-BVFC designated for AF4590. Overnight probems meant that F-BVFA was withdrawn and F-BVFC flew the AF 001 and F-BTSC, as the standby aircraft was brought in to fly AF4590. F-BVFC was then left stranded for 2months at JFK when Air France suspended operations after the accident. (I think F-BVFB had already taken off from JFK and was possibly in transit when the accident occured, can someone confirm?)

There are lots of bits and pieces flying around that add to the cause. I personnaly believe that some of them did not help matters, but with the damage that was done by the original tyre bust they were still heading for a bad day.

Yes, if they had wieghed a little less and not shut down the engine so soon they may have made it to a very heavy crash landing at Le bourget, but with the fire causing the different systems to fail and along with the parts of the aircraft sturcture that were falling from the aircraft due to this initial tyre burst and its aftermath would have made making Le Bouget a very big challenge.

Capt H Peacock
21st Aug 2001, 19:40
The interim report from the BEA makes a number of corrections to the initial publication. Firstly and perhaps most significantly, there was a 7kt tailwind for the take-off roll. With the aircraft at, at the very least, at maximum structural weight (185072kg I think), the aircraft would have been 7 tons over maximum weight and the take-off should never have been attempted.

The lack of the spacer in the left-hand undercarriage leg meant that the truck would have been creating an asymmetric pull on the aircraft, inexorably to the left. This would probably explain the ingestion of the edge light, and in my opinion is probably where the tyre found the notorious strip of metal.

The Captain rotated the aircraft well below Vzrc for three engines and when the engineer decided that number two should be shut down, the aircraft was irrecoverable. A delta wing aircraft like the Concorde can be flown at any speed, so long as you have the thrust to go with it. The slower the speed, the greater the drag, and the usual standard procedure is to rotate as close to tyre limit speed as possible so as to reduce the drag once airborne. In this case, with two engines out, it is staggering that the aircraft reached 200ft at all. What is certain is that the speed he traded for height meant he ran out of control and could not prevent the final roll and descent before impact.

The accident was entirely preventable in my opinion. Firstly by rigorous engineering practices ensuring that the undercarriage was correctly maintained. Secondly the slap-dash loading which allowed the aircraft to be so heavy. Thirdly the refuelling procedures that allowed no expansion gaps in the wing tanks, leading to the hydraulic rupture process of the skin. Fourthly, the Captain at any stage right up to the beginning of the take off could have decided not to go.

I hear that the Captain was something of a folk hero in AF. I also hear, though I cannot substantiate, that the first officer was very unhappy with the aircraft weight and the performance calculations, but was unable to impose his concerns on the other flight crew.

A very sad, very tragic event. I am concerned that all of the facts surrounding this event should be made public so that all of the lessons can be learned. I fear however that the politics which surround it will produce the classic rafistolage Français

21st Aug 2001, 20:24
good morning.
can anyone confirme the empty weight of f-btsc ( ex test aircraft f-wtsc ) supposedly an heavier aircraft than its sister ships.
and in comparison what is the same question for f-bvfa for instance?
best regards from lax,

21st Aug 2001, 21:35
Enigmatic, if the weight, cg, silly engine shut down, etc. were factors, that needs to be widely known, 'cos one day, some-one else's life might depend on it. What does it matter if the boat is rocked now? They've made mods which will make the aircraft safer, they're hardly going to remove them, are they?

Static Discharge, what a helpful contribution! Perhaps if you could explain why these questions are irrelvant, we'd all be able to have the same faith in the investigation and report that you do.

Mgloff, sorry if I've upset you, but my understanding that they were 11 kts below the appropriate VR for the tailwind, and perhaps even lower than that for the excess weight. Do correct me if I'm wrong. Also I'm not sure that I understand what you mean by 'lear'.

Magplug, you have hit the nail on the head. If these were contributory factors, why doesn't the accident report make this clear, and why the unseemly haste to blame the entire accident on the tyre failure alone? And is it reasonable to say that if a tyre failure (however caused) leads to a catastrophe, certification should be withdrawn? Was it the tyre or the poor FOD prevention on the runway? With everything else (weight, cg, engines) all going for them, would they have survived this accident - that's the key question I'm trying to get to the bottom of.

Gordo, you say that: "with the fire causing the different systems to fail and along with the parts of the aircraft structure that were falling from the aircraft due to this initial tyre burst". What systems had failed at the time of impact as a result of the fire, rather than the decision to shut down both port engines? What pieces of structure (other than skin from the lower surface of the wing) fell off before the final plunge?

With more airspeed (and thus control) why would it have been so difficult to make it the few thousand yards to Le Bourget - or even its under-run - it's always best to go in flat with minimal rate of descent than straight down with a high rate!

Captain P, can you elaborate/translate as appropriate?

"Thirdly the refuelling procedures that allowed no expansion gaps in the wing tanks, leading to the hydraulic rupture process of the skin."

"classic rafistolage Français"

"I hear that the Captain was something of a folk hero in AF. I also hear, though I cannot substantiate, that the first officer was very unhappy with the aircraft weight and the performance calculations, but was unable to impose his concerns on the other flight crew." Could you E-mail me if you have any suggestions as to how I might get further confirmation of this (admittedly anecdotal) evidence, please?

I'm not trying to generate a massive scandal, I'm just concerned that I should consider all the evidence and not just accept the BEA's version without subjecting it to some degree of rigorous analysis. Thanks for all your help.

[ 21 August 2001: Message edited by: Jackonicko ]

21st Aug 2001, 22:56
Another interesting question would be: did Aéroport De Paris (ADP) perform the runway search for FOD as they should have done (they are paid for this service) before the Concorde took off?

22nd Aug 2001, 00:43

<<If these were contributory factors, why doesn't the accident report make this clear, and why the unseemly haste to blame the entire accident on the tyre failure alone?>>

You are missing the point old chap. It is a cornerstone of aircraft certification that the failure of one single component (however precipitated) should not lead to the loss of an aircraft.

The other factors, including the lack of ADP FOD sweep, whilst all unsafe in isolation did not cause the loss of this aircraft - They only served to exacerbate a progressively unmanageable situation.

Any accident of this kind is a chain of events where perhaps the removal of one link might have saved the day.

I would suggest that the prospect of reaching Le Bourget was minute - the fast increasing fuel assymetry would have put paid to that even if control were available.

Unfortunately the discussion of pre-flight conversation between crew over loading or any other subject would not have been recorded so the only testimony might be from the redcap or G/E.

I understand the Skipper was highly regarded in AF. As I recall so was the KLM guy at TFN?

22nd Aug 2001, 01:10

Many thanks for your polite and helpful reply - I no longer take such courtesy for granted.

I do indeed seem to be having trouble getting my head arpound the very issue which you highlight - "It is a cornerstone of aircraft certification that the failure of one single component (however precipitated) should not lead to the loss of an aircraft."

My question is whether the failure of a single component (the tyre) did directly (and ON IT'S OWN) lead to the accident. Concorde tyres have burst before, and tanks have leaked as a result before - sometimes just as badly. But there was also an ignition source, and, it seems, that the fire alone would not have caused the crash if the aircraft had not:

a) taken off dramatically overweight, making it difficult to attain V2
b) taken off outside its C of G limits - making a violent uncontrollable departure more likely
c) Had a dragging undercarriage which reduced acceleration, pulled the aircraft away from the runway centreline and forced the Captain to rotate early, making it even less likely that he would attain a safe airspeed
d) had one functioning engine shut down before V2 was reached.

On top of that, there is the question of whether ADs already incorporated on BA aircraft would not have prevented the tyre failure from leading to catastrophe anyway.

Without any of these links in the chain, would we not just be talking about (yet ) another Concorde tyre failure, albeit one which resulted in a severe fire and a skillful landing at Le Bourget?

And even if I'm wrong, and even if the tyre failure was the primary cause, why are these other factors not highlighted in the accident report, and why do they not form part of the chain of events described in the report and its synopses and conclusions?

I do hope I'm not being blind and/or stupid here.....

22nd Aug 2001, 01:35
flyblue - ADP are (for many very genuine reasons, in my opinion and experience) known as Arriver, Dormir, Partir... so the answer to your question is ALMOST certainly no....

And, although I unfortunately don't have the time to search the archives right now and post the link, I take it that the majority of ppruners on this thread have seen the post on the Observer article including photographs of the runway after the incident....?


22nd Aug 2001, 03:51
I am a bit confused, am I to believe that the aircraft REALLY took off above its MTOW? Is this just talk, or are there facts to back up this claim? I mean I find it amazing that at a major airline, operating the worlds "premier aircraft", that it could "just" depart over weight. FlyUsAlnight Airlines from Upper Bigawatsgoingon, Ok I would accept it, but AF with a Concorde? Please fill me in with the information. Thanks all.

22nd Aug 2001, 04:43
About one tonne over for the planned take-off, until Monsieur le Vent (wind) intervened and produced a seven-to-eight knot tailwind, for which the aircraft was about six tonnes overweight. Check the Concorde/Observer thread referred to above.

22nd Aug 2001, 11:23
the wind changed and noone told the crew ?
At least negligent .....

22nd Aug 2001, 11:29
Allegedly the crew were aware, but elected to continue with the flight as if the wind had not changed direction / speed..... :(

22nd Aug 2001, 13:20

This thread has already run it's course elswhere on the forum so I suggest perhaps you re-read what has gone before.

I would venture to suggest that the report was not written by our DoT AIU so maybe it does not read wholly as we might like but nontheless it reaches a satisfactory conclusion.

Like it or not Brits & French do things differently that's life I'm afraid.

22nd Aug 2001, 13:39
1. What was the max RTOW for a Concorde on that day? That can be recalculated given the ATOW and an aftercast.
2. What was the ATOW? That can be recomputed from the declared ZFW and the load sheets which must have been signed by the Commander and lodged with the Company.
3. Did the Concorde CVR tape indicate that the surface wind had been passed to the crew?
4. If 2 was greater than 1 due to a change in atmospheric pressure, OAT or surface wind, that surely must constitute reckless endangerment. Notwithstanding the later failure and the uncommanded engine shut down, to ignore basic Perf A calculations in such a cavalier manner would, if proved true, mean that the Commander was putting his passengers and crew at unacceptable risk from the moment the take-off roll commenced.

[ 22 August 2001: Message edited by: BEagle ]

22nd Aug 2001, 14:25
Translation required - I'm ok on MTOW, AUW, V1, V2, and VR, but ATOW and RTOW - I know I know, but I'm buggered if I can remember right now, and I can't find my aviation dictionary!

Edited for this message to Magplug: Thanks. Have read and re-read all previous Concorde strands. The Observer one concentrated most on the missing spacer - I was fascinated by the weight/cg issue and the garbled report I had that the Captain (perhaps now I mean co-p?) was unhappy about what he was being asked to do. Would suggest that the strand will die all on it's own when it has 'run its course', but at the moment, people still seem interested in the subject, and happy to answer my damn fool questions and try and educate me - for which I'm immensely grateful.

[ 22 August 2001: Message edited by: Jackonicko ]

22nd Aug 2001, 15:26
RTOW: Regulated take-off weight. Effectively the maximum weight at which the aeroplane may take-off with regard to actual conditions of surface wind, atmospheric pressure, runway length, outside air temperature, etc, etc. NOT the same as the maximum permitted stuctural take-off weight. In fact, in some circumstances it is possible for theoretical RTOW to be in excess of max certificated structural take-off weight; this does NOT mean that take-off weights in excess of the certificated limit are permitted on such occasions. The aircraft could probably take-off without difficulty as performance would be adequate, but the aircraft would have been overstressed.

ATOW: Actual take-off weight. For example, some aeroplanes may be permitted to adopt a reduced thrust take-off technique if there is more than a minimum defined difference between ATOW and RTOW - even if RTOW is above certificated structural limits as described above.

Fairly obviously ATOW must never be greater than RTOW!!

For example, if max certified limit for an aeroplane is 185T, RTOW at the time is 186T and ATOW is 185T then fine. But if RTOW drops to 183T because of a change in conditions, take-off must not be attempted!!

Taking off just above max. certificated take-off weight might overstress the aircraft and lead to the aircrfat being grounded for fatigue investigation; taking off above RTOW will probably kill everyone if there is a failure when the aircraft is in gap between being able to stop within the distance remaining or being able to accelerate to take-off and clear all ostacles by the stipulated margin. That is what scheduled performance is designed to prevent; with modern aircraft (especially twin jets with capable brakes) it is often possible to reject a take-off right up to rotate speed - this is certainly NOT the case in older aircraft which, having reached V1, MUST continue the take-off if a malfunction subsequently occurs.

OK pedants, this is a simplification I know, but it's supposed to explain things in lay terms.

[ 22 August 2001: Message edited by: BEagle ]

22nd Aug 2001, 15:43
Any one know if actual passenger weights were used ? If not, schedule weights or charter?

22nd Aug 2001, 17:38
Anecdotally, the allowance was said to be 70-kg per pax - for a plane-load of (and please excuse the apparent racial stereotypeing, I'm only repeating the report) 'fat Germans'.

22nd Aug 2001, 19:00
You guys at the beginning don't know your Concordes very well. That airplane was one of several concordes that were certified to takeoff with 2 engines. Maybe not on one side. Whatever went through the wing and caused the fire caused the crash. I am sure that if the pilots could have seen the future they would have stayed on the ground and bought the parking lot versus becoming a lawn dart later, but hind site is 20/20. :eek:

[ 22 August 2001: Message edited by: 747FOCAL ]

22nd Aug 2001, 20:35

The whole point is that many experts - including former Concorde Captains have said that the tyre failure, tank rupture and ensuing fire would all have been survivable had the aircraft had sufficient speed to stay controllable and either land back or (better yet) turn and land at Le Bourget - which was presumably visible through the left hand cockpit window, if not the windscreen itself.

Capt H Peacock
22nd Aug 2001, 21:11
There are a number of key phrases in the transcript of the VCR. The detail is buried in the report which you can find at http://www.bea-fr.org/docs/f-sc000725e2/htm/f-sc000725e2.html .

The full report spends about three paragraphs discussing how the wind was generally variable and less than ten knots. Only in the interim report does the erratum give the surface wind as 080/08. The rest is 15k, NIL, FEW018,FEW023,BKN033,19/--, H1008

BEagle asked what was the actual take-off weight:

14 h 13 min 13 s, OMN « alors jauge total carburant moi j'ai quatre-vingt-seize quatre avec quatre-vingt-seize trois pour quatre-vingt-quinze à bord ».

gauges total fuel I have 96.4 with 96.3, for 95 on board

14 h 14 min 04 s, OPL « ZFWZFCG », OMN « alors j'ai quatre-vingt-onze neuf et cinquante-deux deux ».

ZFW and ZFW Cof G I have 91.9 and 59.2

I assume that the three fuel figures are ramp/taxi/take-off fuel so I calculate that the a/c left the stand at ZFW + taxi fuel = 91.9 + 96.3 = 188.2 tonnes

14 h 40 min 19 s, commandant de bord « on a consommé combien ? », OMN « là on a huit cents kilos ».

How much have we used? .. There you had 800kgs

14 h 42 min 31 s, commandant de bord « top ».


So 2 min 12 sec before the start of take-off they had used 800kgs of their 96.3 giving 95.5 tonnes remaining, lets be kind and give them another 200kgs up to the start of the take-off roll ie 95.3 tonnes. Therefore the weight at the start of the take-off roll was ZFW + take-off fuel = 91.9 + 95.3 = 187.2 tonnes, which is 2.13 tonnes above the structural limit.

Cousin Nigel and I guestimated a max take-off weight for that runway in those conditions with a tailwind of 7kts of something like 176 tonnes. You make up your own mind.

You can visit the report to look at how they accounted for the passengers, but let’s face it, it was full of people going on a cruise holiday with luggage for a cruise holiday. What weight do you think they should have used?

The latest report addresses the consequences of the missing spacer in the left gear. They do allow that the missing spacer would allow the axle to skew through about 3-5º. The assertion is that with a large downforce on the bogie, the misalignment of the wheels would be resisted by the weight of the aircraft pushing the axle into the top of the ‘tube’ as you will. Clearly then, by the same assertion, with the weight of the aircraft lifting off the wheels at rotation, the axle would have slid to the ‘back of the tube’, skewing the wheels, creating a significant drag and causing the aircraft to veer to the left at the point of rotation. Consistent with the evidence.

The metal strip? A good theory to cling to, but how’s this? The report describes the piece of metal as titanium alloy, 435x31x1.4mm. With the density of titanium as about 4510kg/m3, that comes out as 85g. What fate do you think a bit of metal weighing 85g would suffer behind a DC10 at take-off power/speed? Where would you look for such a piece of metal? The middle of the runway? More likely the edge if you ask me.

She rolled, very overweight for the conditions prevailing, as she rotated the missing spacer dragged the aircraft to the left of the runway where it ingested an edge light, hit the metal strip. The Captain, concerned that the aircraft was about to leave the runway and hit the 747-400 rotated and became airborne way out side the aircraft’s performance capabilities with the inevitable result.

”Rafistolage Français” – a classic French fudge.

22nd Aug 2001, 21:51

I hope to hell someone can contradict that lot, 'cos I'd really prefer not to think of what really seems to have killed all those people. A burst tyre is one thing, but human negligence and error somehow seems worse 'cos it ought to be so much more preventable.

22nd Aug 2001, 22:16
All this sounds very worrying but it would not be the first time that an accident report has been "doctored".

What about the insurance companies and the liability issue? With all the vested interests is there not a case for a totally independent body being called in to do their own investigation - ie somebody with no axe to grind?

I am sorry but at the risk of being accused of discrimination I just do not trust the French to produce an unbiased report!! I await the arrows!

The Guvnor
22nd Aug 2001, 22:23
Surely this, coupled with the language issues, must result in sanctions being put in place by crews - if not the airlines themselves - against flying to France? As far as I can see, it's only if such drastic measures are taken that they will clean up their act. Oh, and whilst we're at it, we can also get them to change their policy on over 55s flying commercially in their airspace!

22nd Aug 2001, 23:55

Source of structural weight limit, s'il vous plait?

Also don't we know that the aircraft hit the strip and was on fire (cos of the soot marks) before it diverged from the centreline? And then diverged before the Captain rotated?

[ 22 August 2001: Message edited by: Jackonicko ]

The Guvnor
23rd Aug 2001, 00:11
Hang on, Jackonicko - I spy that you're a journo!! What do you want all this info for? And more importantly, are there fat brown envelopes in it for those that provide it? :D :D :D

Christopher James
23rd Aug 2001, 00:20
Hi chaps, ATCO here.

This is a most interesting thread but I am finding it quite troubling to read. Without wishing to cause offence to the French people, given other incidents that have occured in France, I smell a rat.

Irrespective of what actually caused or contributed to the crash there is a list of issues in this accident that need to be investigated in their own right. To me, when it is all put together it reads as a very damning indictment of Air France. Should Air France have been found to be criminally neglegent I believe the resulting law suits could have put them out of business and that is a very good motive for covering it up.

I get a feeling I have had before. Wasn't there a couple of lines of code missing from the black box readout of the A320 that crashed (CFIT) at that airshow? We have recently discussed here the language problems at CDG and the death that 'caused'.

It seems to me that the French nation is not acting responsibly. If we allow that to go unchallenged we must accept the consequences.


:( :(

23rd Aug 2001, 00:26
Two other factors to consider:

1. What's the big hurry to shut down an engine? Is Air France procedure to shut down a failed engine immediately after takeoff? Or was this the Flight Engineer's individualized procedure?

2. During an emergency, the usual simulator training scenario concludes with a successful return to the airport, or a landing at one nearest "suitable" airport!

That training "mind set" obviously had influenced Marty and his crew to head for Le Bourget 10 miles down the road, a reasonable decision if the airplane were still flyable.
But the airplane was at 200 feet, gear down, one engine shut down, one engine producing intermittent thrust, and airspeed was decreasing.

Obviously it's unthinkable and unimaginable for a jet crew, much less a Concorde crew, to deliberately put the jet down in a field or on a highway whilst there still is some control. And with Le Bourget in view it was Marty's instinctive reaction to continue to extract performance from the jet.

The airspeed indicator (referenced three times by the F/O on the CVR) was the chief instrument upon which Marty should have relied upon to make the ultimate decision to put the jet down immediately. A controlled crash, as opposed to a stall and assured death. But Marty hesitated. It's not a decision which would have required time or thought, only immediate instinctive reaction.

The first important lesson a pilot learns when flying a single engine trainer: If the engine quits right after takeoff, don't even think about making any turns, land straight ahead!

When flying a crippled multiengine jet, crash land before stalling at any cost.

beaver eager
23rd Aug 2001, 01:06
The First Officer on three separate occasions draws the Captain's attention to the Airspeed Indicator.

Unfortunately, he only uses the words...

"Warning, The Airspeed Indicator, The Airspeed Indicator, The Airspeed Indicator"...

"The Airspeed Indicator"

"The Airspeed Indicator"

There's a lot going on in between, but it must be assumed that as handling pilot, the Captain's selective radial scan had broken down due to sensory overload, and he was therefore not responding to the prompts from the First Officer, which seem to indicate to me that in a desparate attempt to retain/gain altitude, airspeed (which they didn't have to spare) was being sacrificed.

A better call from the First Officer would have been...

"Speed! (or Airspeed Indicator, if you like)"
but backed up with the COMMAND "PITCH DOWN".

Failure to comply should have resulted in his taking control. Better to plough into a field/motorway/whatever the right way up with some aerodynamic control than upside down and vertically.

Having said that, it's easy to sit here and pick up on every little thing. If they did commence take off 10 tonnes overweight, they were digging a pretty big hole for themselves, but nevertheless, it is most likeley that with the sequence of events as they were, it would always have been an unsurviveable incident.

I'm not religious but... There but for the grace of God, go I.

23rd Aug 2001, 01:26
In the world's second fastest 4-jet still in service, we teach a golden rule: Above V1, NEVER NEVER order an engine shut down until you know you can survive without the thrust from that engine. If it's on fire, use the thrust for as long as you can - or for as long as you need it if that's greater. So the scenario is: Engine failure/fire at V1 - order full power and continue the take-off, achieve V2 as a priority, then landing gear up, then deal with the failure/fire. If a second engine failure or fire occurs with the gear down, carry out the double engine failure drill and leave the gear down; if a second fire/failure occurs after the gear has been selected up, carry out the double engine failure drill. The aircraft configuration is then adjusted in accordance with a strict speed/configuration management regime. During all this, all engines are set to max thrust. If an engine on fire stops producing thrust, well, you've at least had the benefit of the thrust whilst it was available. There is NEVER any hurry to shut down an engine, and no FE would EVER do so on his own initiative. Our aircraft has LE slats and TE flaps which, although normally moved together, can be moved independently. The double engine failure drill requires that full power is set, aieron upset is dis-armed and the flap/slat lever 'split'; immediate fuel dump is also initiated. Once V2 is achieved, the flaps ONLY are selected up and the aircraft accelerated to V2+25. During this critical phase, NO OTHER DRILLS are called for or actioned!! Once the aircraft has achieved V2+25 with the flaps up, it should continue to climb even following a double engine failure with the gear down at max weight - so it's then safe to action engine fire/failure drills.

Sorry to go on, but this is an emergency which demands very precise and methodical action and high CRM skill as well as precise flying.

CRM? - Merde alors - qu'est que c'est que ca?

[ 22 August 2001: Message edited by: BEagle ]

23rd Aug 2001, 02:32
One can't help but wonder whether maintaining speed at say 100 ft wouldn't have been preferable to struggling up to 200 ft - especially when you look how close Le Bourget's threshold is.

As a PPL I was astonished at how long he went on flying straight ahead, since it seemed as though even a very, very, very gently banked turn (into the draggy side of the aircraft and the dead engines) would have put Le Bourget 'bang on the nose'. One almost wonders whether he wasn't holding it straight when it's natural inclination would have been to head towards Le Bourget anyway. I know, I know, never turn back, never trade height for manoeuvre, but if I always thought that if you don't have to move your head or eyes to see it, you can treat it as being straight ahead anyway!

If I'm talking out of my hat, then would this kind of gentle turn have been possible if the FE hadn't shut down the No.2?

Looking at the open country available, would a controlled crash landing have killed fewer people?

PS: Guv. Sorry - absolutely no intention to hide the fact that professionally I'm an aviation journo (mainly defence) - hence the unscrupulous signature - my only excuse for not making it even more clear is that over on mil pilots, where I lurk most of the time, everyone knows that I'm this particular type of pond-life. However, I am a recreational pilot, and I like to think that I'm
a) aviation sympathetic and aviation friendly.
b) committed to doing my research properly and telling the stories responsibly, and in a way which is broadly helpful to the aviation community which I think of myself as being part of.
c) willing and eager to be educated by those who know better.

So to all of you who've contributed so far, a very hearty thank you!

23rd Aug 2001, 02:32
The typical heavy jet airline takeoff profile with an engine failure or any emergency is to do NOTHING until 1000 feet AGL, except for silencing the fire bell or warning horn. :cool:

The Guvnor
23rd Aug 2001, 02:39
As you say, BEagle - I suspect that this is the case; that Air France's training methodology is to blame in large part for the crash. Certainly, there were major CRM problems, with everyone apparently acting independently.

Are any BA Concorde PPRuNers aware of what the AF training is like? Have they flown together at all?

You know, the more that gets revealed here (and elsewhere) the more it appears to look like AF and probably other major French concerns such as ADP are potentially catastrophically flawed and need to be re-engineered from the ground up.

Remember, the French government has long been in the business of covering up things that have the potential of hurting France plc. From the Rainbow Warrior through to multiple A320 and A330 crashes, the blame has been laid anywhere except at the door of anyone that may adversely affect French economics. We've seen how the ridiculous insistence of French pilots and ATCOs in speaking French has cost many lives over the years. How much longer are we going to put up with this - when our own lives are on the line?

In the interim, I think we need to ask ourselves - is it really safe to fly to (and over) France? :eek: :eek:

23rd Aug 2001, 03:17


Far be it for me to defend the French, but cover-ups of 'multiple A320 and 330 crashes'? If there is a serious worry about cover-ups being endemic in French accident investigations, then examples should be carefully and quietly noted, with our reasons for the belief that the conclusions were not as the accident reports made out. I'm not saying don't post such examples, but let's not leave ourselves open to accusations of knee-jerk 'Frog-bashing'.

23rd Aug 2001, 09:50
We have to remember, of course, that the primary requirement of the investigation is not to apportion blame, but to establish the facts surrounding the accident.
However, one cannot help but to draw certain conclusions from the ATOW, the wind value used for calculation of RTOW and the actual wind velocity, 090/08, which was passed to the crew when they were cleared for take-off.
Would anyone, knowing that the wind velocity was so different to that assumed at the planning stage, not at least pause to confirm that this had not affected RTOW and V1? It's one of the basic exercises we throw at our students in the simulator; hence last week when I knew that we were late and that RW26 was in use, when I asked the crew to check whether we could use the much closer RW08, the answer was immediate - at the weight we were at, we could accept a 10kt tailwind and V1 would change from 117kt to 116kt. So we did!

23rd Aug 2001, 12:46

Quite right! Blame is, in itself, irrelevant. But my concern is that the real lessons of this accident (or indeed any accident) should be reflected in the report, since otherwise, it will be of less value. (I'm convinced that the much of the value of accident reports is in acting as general object lessons for other aircrew, almost as much in highlighting specific weaknesses or problems which need to be addressed for the type, airline or aircrew involved in the specific incident being reported. If the report glosses over the dangers of taking off downwind, overweight, with a c of g outside limits, with a missing undercarriage spacer and a flight engineer who shuts down engines on his own initiative, at the drop of a hat, these may not be fully appreciated. The aviation community might assume that that could never happen, and instead think: 'Better watch the runway carefully for bits of broken lawnmower - what's that - an eight knot tailwind - no I'm sure that won't matter - but are you sure this jet's got the new tank liner? How much baggage went on? Should have checked earlier, but .... I'm sure it'll be alright - what are you doing there engineer....'

I know it's too serious to joke about, but you get the idea, I'm sure.

Capt H Peacock
23rd Aug 2001, 15:14
I’ll admit that where the aircraft met the metal strip is speculation on my part, I just don’t know. In my opinion though it is just one of a number of mishaps to befall the aircraft on its fateful journey. The argument about single cause is fatuous. A single broken fuse-pin brought down a DC10 at LA, a single grain of sand accounted for the Sioux City disaster, a single poor repair accounted for the Japanair 747, the list is long.

What is clear and unequivocal, and taken from the official report by the BEA, is that at the point of take-off, the Captain was aware of the ZFW and the fuel on board so therefore he knew that the aircraft was overweight. It doesn’t matter how they calculated the ZFW, or what weight they had used for the passengers and their luggage, or what procedure they had used to load extra fuel. The Captain had been given a ZFW and a fuel load acknowledged as such on the CVR which exceeded the aircraft structural limit (source, the report), let alone his failure to account for the 7kt tailwind.

I imagine many operators share the last minute mental process that flows through the mind of the professional aviator as he/she enters the runway with the intention of committing aviation. Is this the right runway, is it clear, is there anyone on finals, what’s the wind and which way am I going to turn if we have a fire is the performance data still valid, if I stop what is the nature of the overrun, in the event that we get airborne what was the engine out procedure, and what is the initial part of the SID, what is the extent of my clearance, do I accept it, is the cabin secure, lights, transponder, can I go?

A brief examination of the Captain's situation would have led him to say NO GO. That is the cause of this accident.

23rd Aug 2001, 16:48
...or taxi to the other end of the runway??
How do the numbers work with 7kt head?

Wow downwind concorde ops... cool! Not. :eek:

[ 23 August 2001: Message edited by: daytrader ]

brain fade
23rd Aug 2001, 17:14
never had the luxury of a flight engineer so don't know whether or not there are any circumstances where the F/E is required to make an uncommanded engine shutdown. Seems a touch precipitate though. Cant think of any situation where one crew member just shuts one down without a bit of a discussion taking place first. Anyone enlighten me?

23rd Aug 2001, 18:06
CDG has oodles of runway. Concorde has oodles of power. Do we know that the 7 knot tailwind was a causal factor in the accident? The Captain may have made a poor decision in not making new performance calculations but the tailwind did not cause the fire. For all we know he may have taken off into a decreasing tailwind!

On the Classic in BA the Flight engineer could shut down an an engine with no reference to the Pilots. On the ground, on the landing roll, if the engine surged in reverse.

23rd Aug 2001, 19:08
The tailwind meant that as well as being a tonne over the structural limit, he was six tonnes over the appropriate limit for those conditions. And no, it didn't cause the fire, but nor did the fire cause the loss of the aircraft. It may eventually have done, but what caused the crash was that the crew lost control of the aircraft, which stalled and spun in. And if weight, out-of-limits aft cg and the unnecessary shut-down of an engine isn't germane to that, what is?

Question: Is anyone still content with the simple verdict that the failure of a tyre directly caused the loss of the aircraft and all those aboard?

Are you happy that none of the other factors explored here were seriously discussed in the accident report, even if they were then logically countered and discounted?

Is anyone happy that the report is completely impartial and that no 'political interests' are being protected by its conclusions?

The Guvnor
23rd Aug 2001, 19:19
Absolutely not.

There's no doubt in my mind that if AF had complied with the Airworthiness Directive covering the tyreburst situation the accident would never have happened.

Equally, BA's Concordes should never have been grounded; as they had carried out the requisite ADs.

And I'm absolutely certain that the report will not blame Air France for poor training and lack of CRM - nor will it dwell too much on ADP's role in the chain of events.

24th Aug 2001, 03:27
Might be of interest:

the 2nd interim report has now had its english translation published as a PDF only



Capt H Peacock
24th Aug 2001, 10:49
It doesn’t matter what the wind was. I’ll reiterate what I said about he transcript. From the conversations of the crew it is clear that at the start of the take-off roll was ZFW + take-off fuel = 91.9 + 95.3 = 187.2 tonnes, which is 2.13 tonnes above the structural limit.

By the way, it didn't stall. Delta wings can operate at any angle of attack so long as you have the thrust to go with it. The lift comes from 'vortex lift' and as such separation is not an issue. Hence the alarming displays we all enjoy from the Mig 29. What Concorde did was run out of speed and so control authority. The crew were unable to control a roll toward the dead engines and susbsequent falling of the nose.

No, the structural limit is the structural limit. They knew that and yet they elected to attempt the take-off.

24th Aug 2001, 10:56
There's something very odd indeed about the flight preparation. Although the lower max take-off weight used by the flight dispatcher can perhaps be explained by the original thrust reverser unserviceability, we also learn that the data used was not archived, the crew decided to take over the flight preparation themselves, the load manifest 'was not found', neither was the captain's signature. The met data used by the crew wasn't archived either. The report then states that the technical investigators 'redid the calculations using the meteorological conditions on the day of the accident'. IMPORTANT QUESTION! Does that mean the original 12 kt headwind as assumed by the Flight Dispatcher, or the 8 kt tailwind passed to the crew when cleared for take-off??.

We must be told:

1. What was the Zero Fuel Weight, how much fuel was loaded and what, therefore, was the estimated Actual Take-Off Weight, given the FE's CVR statement that 800kg had been used for taxiing ? 187.2T??

2. What was the Regulated Take-Off Weight assuming the actual conditions at the time? I.e., with a tailwind of 8 kt? 177T??

3. What was the maximum certificated take-off weight for F-BTSC? 185.07T??

If 1. is greater than either 2. or 3., the captain's decision to take-off would have imperilled his passengers and crew from the moment of brake release. What happened next is history, but the culture which seemingly paid scant attention to the rules of scheduled performance is deeply concerning.

Imagine a scenario where you know that you need a certain mass of fuel to complete the flight. That is then loaded onto the aeroplane. When the ZFW is finally declared, you discover that you're going to be over max certificated take-off weight. But you can't offend the punters by offloading some of them and their baggage - so what do you do? <<Alors, mes copains. We will burn off the 'overweight amount' during taxi, n'est-ce pas?>> You are concerned that this will be a bit close to reality, so just as you arrive at the holding position, you ask the FE how much you've really used. When given the answer, you know that you're still just above the structural limit. What do you do now? <<Merde alors!! Close enough...we go!>> perhaps? And because you've been so concerned that you'll be over max certificated weight (although it's unlikely that anyone will find this out), when cleared for take-off with a wind of 090/8, neither you nor your questionably-CRM performing crew even mention the potential effect of the tailwind on Regulated Take-Off Weight?

I really hope that this would never happen. Would it??

[ 24 August 2001: Message edited by: BEagle ]

24th Aug 2001, 12:28
But why so much blah blah about the eventual overweight of the concorde at take off? Want you to say than would the concorde have been ten tons under MTOW, it would have made it to Le Bourget with 2 engines?
It's not. The speed mini to fly the concorde with 2 engines is about 280 Kts (Concorde specifications), far away from the speed they could have made althought they have been lighter, without speaking of making a landing far overweight at hot speed, with the huge fire and with a tyre bursted...

[ 24 August 2001: Message edited by: MGloff ]

24th Aug 2001, 12:39
Had the aeroplane reached V2, in all probability a positive climb gradient would have resulted. An engine deliberately shut down even though it was producing thrust would not have helped the situation.

With the aircraft outside scheduled performance limits, a desperate atttempt to reach Le Bourget was perhaps the only option once the aircraft's fate was sealed by the uncommanded shut down of No 2 and No 1 starting to fail before V2 had been achieved.

Limits are limits. They must be observed precisely; any pilot knowingly taking-off in contravention of such limits is acting in a criminally irresponsible manner. One hopes that this is not a culture which exists in many companies.......

[ 24 August 2001: Message edited by: BEagle ]

24th Aug 2001, 13:03
As for the repeatedly qualified "uncommanded" of the shutting down of N2 engine, read the CVR, and you clearly see that even not closed once, the captain had orderred the shutting down seconds laters
( -Marty: "Tu coupe le moteur 2 là?"
-FE "J'ai coupé".)
And the sentences don't mean "Have you shutted the engine two?" but, without question, "Will you Shut down engine two at last?", and even a sligthly impatient kind of order.

And for v2, which V2 are you talking of? V2 originaly planned, V2 for 3 engines or V2 for 2 engines?
I've just posted above than they just NEVER SOULD HAVE REACHED V2 FOR 2 ENGINES, even under MTOW...

[ 24 August 2001: Message edited by: MGloff ]

24th Aug 2001, 14:26
14 43.20 FE <<failure....engine 2>>
14 43.24 FE <<shut down engine 2>>
14 43.25 Capt <<engine fire procedure>>
14 43.27 No 2 Engine parameters fall
14 43.28.7 No 2 Engine stops receiving fuel
14 43.29 A fire handle is pulled. In the wreckage the No 2 fire handle is discovered to have been pulled.
14 43.45 Capt <<(are you) shutting down engine 2 there>>
14 43.45 FE <<I've shut it down>>

Thus it is clear that the engine was indeed shut down without a clear, unambiguous command having been given by the Captain. Indeed, in a classic piece of Gallic ambiguity, the report states "The engine 2 fire alarm came on and the crew announced shut down of this engine a few seconds later". This is most certainly NOT the same as "The Captain ordered the shut down of the No 2 engine"..............

The report only refers to the overweight take-off; nowhere do we read what the RTOW actually was. Have any PPRuNers access to a Concorde ODM or take-off graph for the RW in question? If so, perhaps they would care to calculate the RTOW for both a zero wind and an eight knot tailwind on that RW??

24th Aug 2001, 14:32
14 43.45 Capt <<(are you) shutting down engine 2 there>>
14 43.45 FE <<I've shut it down>>

As I've said above the statement from Marty at 14 43 45 mean absolutely clearly (in french) "Shut down the engine Two" And Ive yet said that's even sligthy impatient.

24th Aug 2001, 15:11
Here's the section of the report that deals with the issue of weight.

-------------------------------------------------------------- Flight Planning

The preparation of flight AFR 4590 began at 09 h 12. The dispatcher’s work screen indicated QFU 27. In addition, the non-availability of thrust reverser 2 led to a reduction of 2.5% in the maximum weight in operation.

Based on data on the wind (a twelve kt headwind), the QNH (low, 1008 hPa), the temperature (higher than the norm) and the usable length of the runway, the dispatcher calculated the maximum weight as 177,930 kg. However, flight preparation showed a takeoff weight of 184,800 kg with the one hundred passengers checked in.

At about 09 h 30, the dispatcher informed the duty officer of the weight problem, without however specifying the QFU used for the calculation. The duty officer first thought of using another aircraft, then tried to resolve the technical problem with the reverser and finally thought of loading the baggage onto another flight.

On his side, the dispatcher studied two hypotheses for routes (one direct and one with an optional technical stop) and loading so that the flight could take place in terms of its weight.

A little before 10 h 00, the crew called the dispatcher who informed them of the problem. The crew informed him that they had asked for the replacement of the failed pneumatic motor on reverser 2, asked him to file a direct ATC flight plan and told him that they were going to take over the flight preparation themselves.

(Note: work had been under way on runway 27 for three weeks. The instructions to assist flight preparation stated that they should “favour (runway 27) for Concorde, because of noise pollution”, runway 26 being used only “exceptionally”. However, information relating to the runway configurations, in particular runway length, was available.)

The meteorological data used by the dispatcher were not archived. No directives instructed him to do so. The preparation undertaken by the crew was not archived either. The technical investigators therefore redid the calculations with the flight dispatcher, using the meteorological data of the day of the accident, runway 26 right and without the technical restriction due to the reverser. In these conditions, the estimated takeoff weight come out at 184,802 kg for a MTOW of 185,070 kg. Flight Departure
It was impossible to discover whether the crew took possession of the flight dossier, even though it had become redundant. The load sheet, including the fuel loading sheet and the Captain’s signature, was not found.


[ 24 August 2001: Message edited by: stagger ]

24th Aug 2001, 18:19
Without hearing the captain's words (and preferably seeing his expression) it's impossible to divine the exact emphasis.

Did he effectively say, as our French friend intimates,
"Haven't you shut down No.2 yet, you oaf?"
or did he say
"You shut down No.2 there, you idiot?"

Perhaps an elaborate mime-show was going on, with the crew communicating by hand signal, or even mental telepathy. Perhaps the evil British beamed thoughts into the cockpit forcing them to ignore the weight, the c of g and the runway, and then to shut down an engine at the wrong time, ensuring that they wouldn't then reach V2.

Or perhaps the evidence is actually clear.

The actual words were:

"Tu coupe le moteur 2 là"

Without hearing them we don't know if there was a question mark. The official French report translates this as:

14 43.45 Capt <<(are you) shutting down engine 2 there>>

The official report does not back MG's translation of "Will you Shut down engine two at last? nor his alternative (slightly impatient "Shut down the engine Two"

Had the Captain meant this, surely he'd have said:

"Coupe (or coupe tu) le moteur 2 là"

A direct, word for word translation would seem to leave little doubt: "You shut down the engine No.2 there?" I'm told that la in this context might be used when an English speaker might use 'back there' or 'then'. (Most likely emphasis - I can't believe it, tell me you didn't!)

I'm surprised at MG's translation, because it shifts the blame from the FE to being a stupid decision by the FE that was then fully validated by the Captain.

With regard to the weight.
Do we agree that an overweight aircraft will accelerate more slowly (especially once one engine has been lost)?

Do we agree that an overweight aircraft with a wrongly-reassembled undercarriage might veer off the runway more markedly than a lightweight one?

Might this not mean that a lighter aircraft might not have hit the runway light which probably killed the No.1 engine?

Might this not mean that a lighter aircraft would not have had to rotate 11 knots early?

Do we agree that an overweight aircraft (especially one with an aft c of g) will depart before a lightly loaded one?

Do we agree that a crew who wilfully ignore weight limitations and take off overweight for reasons of expediency are not demonstrating the degree of professionalism and responsibility we expect?

Do we not agree that there was more chance of a correctly loaded, not overweight aircraft reaching the sanctuary of Le Bourget even with two engines out and even with the fire. Remember that they nearly made it anyway.

It looks as though the key factors in the disaster, in order of importance were:
1) Shutting down an engine unnecessarily and thereby making it impossible to raise the gear or attain V2
2) Being overweight with an aft cg
3) Having a dragging undercarriage that caused the aircraft to veer off the runway
4) Having an ignition source (poorly maintained wiring to the brake cooling fans - or a spark from friction in the mis-assembled undercarriage perhaps?
5) Having the fuel tank rupture
6) Having a tyre blow out

Some-one remarked about fuel assymetry earlier - surely with the left wing becoming lighter as fuel escaped/was burned, this helped counter the effect of the dead engines.



[ 24 August 2001: Message edited by: Jackonicko ]

24th Aug 2001, 18:29
As I've said above the statement from Marty at 14 43 45 mean absolutely clearly (in french) "Shut down the engine Two" And Ive yet said that's even sligthy impatient.

As a native French speaker, I must say I do not share your sense of clarity. At least, not from the words alone. Your interpretation is certainly possible, but much would depend on tone of voice. Have you heard the actual tape, or are you just going from the transcript? For example, try reading the same words in an alarmed tone, and they come across as "what the $*^%^ are you doing?"

24th Aug 2001, 18:53
"...desperate attempt to reach Le Bourget only option...."

No! The only option under the circumstances was to have crash landed on the highway or in a farmer's field. It should have been an instinctive survival decision. A decision reguiring neither time nor thought. A decision based soley on the Airspeed, which was decreasing. Three times the F/O had warned Marty about decreasing airspeed.

Regardless of an impossible situation, never for one second give up the struggle to stay alive. Marty did not possess the ultimate survival instinct.

It's a classic scenario of controlled crash vs. stall and assured death.

24th Aug 2001, 19:09
the land between CDG and Le Bourget have sadly not more than 100 M maxi of field without big houses, and the highway is a highly used road with a car every 30m or so...

For the translation, it's evident.Failure engine 2, Alarm fire, the FE annonce engine 2 cut, procedure fire done,end of fire alarm . 20 sec later, the fire alarm came in again, and then Marty ask the FE to shut the engine, if not yet.
without questions.

24th Aug 2001, 19:20
You're completely missing the point. No airplane can sustain controlled flight without sufficient airspeed. Better to deliberately land in any field or on any highway rather than to stall and to fall out of the sky.

24th Aug 2001, 19:38
Did you deliberatly land on a road with plenty of cars? or in a 100m long field between two hostels? Its just NOT POSSIBLE (without killing even more people)!
and Le Bourget was at a few hundred of meters (+- 1km).

24th Aug 2001, 20:32

You may be French, but you don't know that bit of Paris' suburbs, evidement!

Go back to p.3 of this thread and look at the satellite photo. Draw a line from point 6 to Le Bourget's runway threshold and tell me again that
"the land between CDG and Le Bourget have sadly not more than 100 M maxi of field without big houses, and the highway is a highly used road with a car every 30m or so..." the small fields may be separated by small hedges, but aren't crossed by a serious obstacle until you reach road until nearly Le Bourget's perimeter. Not perfect (but nothing would ever be for a forced landing in Concorde) but eminently survivable for a high proportion of those on board - and less dangerous for those on board and those on the ground than 'spinning in' perilously close to a built up area.

24th Aug 2001, 22:17
Faced with loss of thrust between Vr (198 KIAS) and Vzrc LG extended on 3 engines (205 KIAS), the last thing any pilot would reasonably consider would be to call for any engine to be shut down - particularly if the adjacent engine had also suffered a brief loss of thrust. In fact they seem to have acheived 205 KIAS and the captain subsequently ordered the landing gear to be raised. During the ensuing landing gear confusion and robbed of any available thrust from the No 2 engine, the speed fell below 205 and a positive climb gradient with Nos 1, 3 and 4 engines at contingency power would not have been acheived. The FO gave clear warning concerning the airspeed, but by then the aircraft was no longer able to climb, let alone accelerate to V2. Seeing a runway, the captain made a last and undeniably heroic effort to reach it; regrettably the aeroplane departed controlled flight before the runway could be reached.

No matter how damaged it might have been, if the No 2 engine was producing ANY thrust it should have been left running with all 4 throttles fully forward until Vzrc3le or even V2 was attained.

24th Aug 2001, 22:43
It should perhaps be pointed out that BEagle is a four-engined jet pilot of more than 20 years experience, with a significant amount of four-jet Delta wing experience. Moreover he's a senior flying instructor on four-jet aeroplanes, in an organisation whose reputation for imparting the best flying skills is unsurpassed. Short of Concorde captains there's no-one we should listen to with more care on this subject, IMHO.

But he doesn't have my good looks! :D

25th Aug 2001, 00:34
Thanks for the CV, Jacko, but I am NOT an expert on Concorde. I really hope that someone will prove that I'm talking bollocks and that the crew neither took off above max certificated take-off weight, nor handled the emergency in anything other than an exemplary manner in an impossible situation.
Sadly, and much as it pains me to say so, I cannot yet reach that conclusion.
RIP F-BTSC and all who flew in her, but the important thing - the really important thing - is that the lessons learnt will mean that such an accident can never be repeated.

New Bloke
25th Aug 2001, 03:25
In these days of CRM isn’t an engineer empowered to shut down a malfunctioning engine? Lack of CRM was cited after the terrible crash at Teneriffe, the KLM FE asked during the power up if they were cleared for take-off. On a recent “black box” program the FE was almost castigated for not pulling back the thrust levers.

25th Aug 2001, 23:22
NO!! A FE would certainly never be empowered to shut down any engine without a clear command from the handling pilot (or Captain - Company SOPs may vary). Even then, the shut down actions would be monitored by the non-handling pilot (or FO) before the engine was positively shut down and thrust irrevocably lost. NEVER, NEVER would such a critical action be taken without cross-monitoring - and that is one of the cornerstones of CRM!

A7E Driver
25th Aug 2001, 23:26
While the text books say crash land rather than stall --- I think I would have tried to make Le Bourget also --- even it it meant exploring the upper limits of AOA. They had a full load of fuel and were already on fire --- chance of surving a crash landing in a field =0.

26th Aug 2001, 00:29
Just out of interest, if anybody is of course...Concorde get its C of A back on the 28th of this month.


26th Aug 2001, 01:06
And quite rightly so to!

cosmo kramer
26th Aug 2001, 04:07
You're completely missing the point. No airplane can sustain controlled flight without sufficient airspeed. Better to deliberately land in any field or on any highway rather than to stall and to fall out of the sky.

With an airspeed of around 200 kts, how survivable do you think that would be...??? Imagine running your car at 230 mph (370 km/hr) over a rough field with hedges, ditches etc. Not an option! Keep her flying at all costs. That is what it's certified for anyway, if limitations had been observed. Rest in peace. :(

NO!! A FE would certainly never be empowered to shut down any engine without a clear command from the handling pilot (or Captain - Company SOPs may vary). Even then, the shut down actions would be monitored by the non-handling pilot (or FO) before the engine was positively shut down and thrust irrevocably lost. NEVER, NEVER would such a critical action be taken without cross-monitoring - and that is one of the cornerstones of CRM!

Although your impressive resume, I have to disagree in the case of the Teneriffe accident. The captain was clearly violating all rules and should have been stopped by anyone and with any means. This includes the FE shutting down the engines if necessary.

26th Aug 2001, 05:39


Any forced landing holds out the slender chance of survival. Driving my car at 230 mph over fields is less likely to kill me than driving off a multi storey car park. Waiting 'til you lose control at low altitude will ALWAYS kill you. Turning towards Le Bourget (and the open fields) was always going to be a better option. And if he hadn't been overweight, with an aft cg, he might have made the runway.

26th Aug 2001, 12:11
Had the FE not permitted the throttles to be opened at Tenerife, then it is possible that the accident might not have happened. But that decision would have happened at 0 KIAS on the ground, not at a critical state of flight. Similarly, had the Concorde FE or FO said, "Capt - we are overweight for take-off and we must recheck the RTOW if you wish to take-off with an 8kt tailwind", instead of reacting to his "Top" call, the Concorde accident wouldn't have happened. Did they know that they were overweight - in which case they were complicit - or did they harbour their fears but did not have the positive CRM manner to state their concern?

I agree that a controlled forced landing might have resulted in less fatalities, whereas to depart controlled flight at high AoA and low airspeed would virtually guarantee a 100% fatality rate.

New Bloke
26th Aug 2001, 14:21
I still think we are being a little unfair on the FE here. His job is to monitor the engines' health, he sees 1,3 & 4 working properly, he hears on the radio that they have a fire in the vicinity of the No 2 engine and notices a reading on his instruments that tell him No 2 isn't that healthy. The two guys facing forward seem to have rather a lot on their plate and why should he add to their burden?

Never-the-less from reading all of these posts it seems that breaking more than one link in this chain would have been needed for this tragic event not to have occured.

beaver eager
26th Aug 2001, 15:07
I have to take issue with your points cosmo kramer,

Whilst your suggested solution to the Tenerife incident would indeed have prevented it, in making reference to it here you're simply not comparing like with like.

Our procedures allow for an engine to be shut down without reference to the other pilot, for example following an engine fire after landing. That is quite a different thing to what is being discussed on this thread and I must concur with BEagle on this one.

With an airspeed of around 200 kts, how survivable do you think that would be...??? Imagine running your car at 230 mph (370 km/hr) over a rough field with hedges, ditches etc. Not an option! Keep her flying at all costs. That is what it's certified for anyway, if limitations had been observed. Rest in peace.

Here you contradict yourself. On the one hand you say keep it flying at all costs. By definition that means (in this scenario) flying it 'downhill' to keep sufficient airspeed to retain control. Of course, le Bourget was a great idea but in having to maintain a descent to remain flying there is the strong possibility of having to land short of the runway.

In many incidences of aircraft crashing at very low altitudes when close to landing, there are some survivors (Sioux City, Kegworth). We have seen the result of losing flying control and crashing upside down from 200ft agl.

There is no grey area here.

And New Bloke,

I see from your profile that you are an IT consultant. Whilst I applaud your intentions to stick up for the FE in this terrible incident (and what the conversations in the cockpit actually meant seem to be open to interpretation anyway). If you had ever had training as a member of the flight crew in a multi engine operation, you would know that during flight (let alone at such a critical stage) a crew member NEVER acts in isolation, especially in the rather sensitive area of shutting down engines! To do so is to fly in the face of the most fundamental aspect of multi-crew operaions.

The emergency procedures on my fleet are as follows, I would be surprised if they were much different on Concorde.

No actions (except controlling the flight path, of course) below 500ft agl apart from raising the gear and cancelling any aural/visual warning. At 500ft agl the handling pilot instructs the non-handling pilot to 'confirm the failure' Having agreed with the NHP's diagnosis, the HP instructs the NHP to carry out the appropriate drill.

I would be interested to hear from a current or former Concorde pilot as to what their procedure is for an emergency just prior to V1. My bet is that it doesn't invlove the FE unilaterally shutting down what he believes is the affected engine!

Edited for punctuation

[ 26 August 2001: Message edited by: beaver eager ]

26th Aug 2001, 15:53
With so many years in service, there must be dozens of Concorde or ex-Concorde guys out there. What a pity that none of them will add some expertise as we thrash around looking for answers.....

And yes, that's a request/challenge, whatever.

New Bloke
26th Aug 2001, 16:33
I always wait during these discussions for someone to check my profile, and without knowing whether or not I am a pilot or have ever flown in a multi-crew environment, assume I am “just an IT consultant” and therefore devalue what I might have to say.

Okay, even if I had never set foot on an Aircraft before, I can tell you that blaming men who are dead and can not answer back is wrong. Two dead F/Es, one didn’t stop 4 engines and therefore killed 480 people, one did stop one engine and therefore killed 120 people. Don’t you think this is wrong?

This was an event that happened because many actions were and were not taken. If we are seeking one arse to kick then to me the more obvious arse is the Engineering department that allowed the undercarriage to be installed without the spacer. From what I have read here, even if the tyre had stayed intact we would still be reading and writing about this incident. The veer to the left, the subsequent hitting and ingesting of the edge lamp, the take-off below Vr to avoid the 747 on the taxi-way - all of these by themselves would have resulted in (at best) an emergency overweight landing at Bouget.

26th Aug 2001, 17:59
Why only kick one arse, when many may (or may not) deserve it?

ADP for pi$$ poor FOD control?
ADP for compromising safety in the interests of using a 'quieter' runway?
Air France engineering for the reasons mentioned?
Air France management for allegedly allowing/encouraging a culture in which cavalier disregard of rules and regs was possible?
Air France for not incorporating existing ADs on tyres and tanks?
The Captain for taking an overweight aircraft, not rechecking the weight after the wind direction changed, and allowing himself to get slow enough to lose control, instead of force landing?
The FE for shutting down the engine
BAC/Aerospatiale for an inadequate original fuel tank design?
The tyre manufacturers?
Continental (or, if some reports are to be believed, airfield contractors) for the FOD?
The BEA for over-concentrating on one aspect in the report?
The CAA for rubber stamping it?

No-one's singling out the FE to shoulder all the blame, but in shutting down that engine when he did, his was probably the action which represents the 'final straw'.

[ 27 August 2001: Message edited by: Jackonicko ]

26th Aug 2001, 19:51
It needs to be stressed that it's not direct blame of an individual which is being sought in this thread. Everyone would, I am sure, respect the honourable aeronautical tradition of not laying direct blame at those who can never answer to their accusers.

What we really wish to know is whether a culture existed on that airline/fleet/crew which seemingly allowed them to ignore the fact that they were about to take-off overweight, which did not query the revised RTOW with the tailwind and which then allowed a critical engine shut down to go unchallenged?

Perhaps the alleged mis-aligned spacer would have been less of a problem if the aircraft had not been over its certificated structural take-off weight limit. Perhaps the tyre(s) would not have failed so dramatically after impact if they had not benn subjected to the stress of an overweight take-off........

There is more to this than just 'a tyre burst after an impact with runway FOD; the resulting fire caused catastrophic loss of thrust and the aircraft subsequently departed controlled flight'.

[ 26 August 2001: Message edited by: BEagle ]

cosmo kramer
26th Aug 2001, 20:03
Jackonicko, BEagle and beaver eager

I guess you are missing my point, probable my fault becasue I am not good enough expressing what I mean in writing. :D My oint about the FE was in relation to New Bloke's comments to the Teneriffe accident.

I have to admit that I am no expert in jets, nor will I probably ever be. BUT from commen sense it's easy to deduct that large jet aircraft are not designed to land on rough fields (as opposed to light aircrafts and even some larger turboprops). They are certified to be able to keep flying, provided, a) procedures are followed and b) limitations are observed. Not downhill and no reason to consider an off field landing.

On the otherhand, if not complying with a) and b) there is almost certainly spelled disaster in case of an emergency. A crash, controlled or not, will most likely cause everyone to die. The Sioux city accident was not a crash but a very hard landing on paved surface and even then half of the died.

Observe limitations, comply with procedures, keep it flying and your fine. This also included that the FE should not have shut down an engine uncommanded, just to clear up that misunderstanding, that was not what I meant. What he (and/or the F/O) should have done was refused to fly, as should the F/O or FE in Teneriffe (using whatever means possible including mutiny).

27th Aug 2001, 01:47
BEagle is quite right, it's not about apportioning blame, it's about assessing whether the authorities are doing their jobs and exercising their responsibilities adequately with this report.

It's about asking whether (if there was more to it than a simple tyre failure) the true causes of the accident have been properly recognised, and what is being done to make sure it doesn't happen again.

I'm glad they grounded Concorde and beefed up tyres and tanks, but I'm beginning to think that grounding Air France and re-training everyone wouldn't be an even more appropriate step!


There are plenty of examples of people surviving crash landings (I'd prefer to call them forced landings) - Sioux City may have touched down on the runway, but it ended up on rough ground at the kind of speed you were talking about. And even though it touched down with damned near 70° angle of bank, half those on board walked away. Kegworth hit a slope while on final approach. Numerous other aircraft have survived excursions into the overrun on take off or landing. There is no reason to suppose that Concorde would not have fared just as well in the terrain around Le Bourget.

On the other hand, no-one ever survives the classic stall/spin accidents which result from fools trying to 'stretch the glide'.

27th Aug 2001, 01:57
if the runway had been swept correctly then nothing could have caused tire burst and fuel tank rupture...pure and simple.

the runway was not cleaned correctly and Concorde will next take to skies with better tires and better fuel tanks...an altogether better aircraft.

I would not wish that anyone had died that a safer aircraft would be flying again - I just hope those in Paris who should have done their jobs cleaning runway have really examined consciences and resolved to do better next time...

Sorry - a simple reaction but from the heart OK?


27th Aug 2001, 06:50
An off airport landing/controlled crash does not automatically result in injuries or fatalities.
If you click on the link below you will see the photo of a 737 landed in a farmer's field. No injuries to passengers. The airplane sustained no damage and was subsequently flown off by Boeing test pilots.

27th Aug 2001, 14:02
For the 3rd time I KNOW the place between CDG and Le Bourget, I LIVED HERE, and it's not the country, I'TS A TOWN, NO FARMER'S FIELD, NO PLACE TO LAND!!!
nowhere more than a few hundreds meters free, i'ts absolutely impossible to land a heavy jet here without crashing in a house...

27th Aug 2001, 14:36
1) Do you know what is the normal reaction planned in the concorde book to react to a "engine failure warning" with a "fire alarm warning" ?
2) Do you know which were the informations in the hands of the crews and wich was the reactions booked to react?
3) Do you know how a lighter take off had modified the fate of the fly?
4) Do you know if , if not closed , the engine 2 had provided thrust and how long?
5) For the super landers, how could the crew have knew than engine 1 had to fail seconds laters?, knowing than a 3 engines fly is not an imminent crash scenario, and should have normally been made to Le Bourget

No, you don't know, you think, you thought, you believe, and then you conclude and you blame...

Now, the official investigation, whose work was not to sanctify the crew's memory, nor to try to sold any Concorde around, but to try to find the true reasons which have brouhted down the bird, have the answer to the questions 1 and 2, and stated than the crews had reacted perfectly, with the informations they had at the time.

cosmo kramer
27th Aug 2001, 14:46

There is one major difference between Sioux city and the Concorde crash. The Sioux city had to land - one way or another - and their situation was never going to improve. They had no choice. Besides their speed must have been considerably slower when they went into the corn field. The speed would also be much slower on an overrun accident.

My guess would also be that Concorde pilot doesn't recieve any training in forced off runway landings. They are probable thought to have confidence in that the plane will keep flying (which would probable also have been correct if the limitations and procedures had been observed). Also the aircraft was on heavy fire and had loads of fuel. Landing off runway with no immediate fire service would probable have meant they would have died anyway, so I would have fought to keep it in the air as well.

I know. But there is a major difference between an almost uncrontrolable delta wing on flames going 200 kts, and a perfectly good and controlable B737 with a stall speed of 100-120 kts.

27th Aug 2001, 15:16
Dear all

I started reading this thread thinking I " might " make it from page 1 to 6; how presumptious of me to think I could remain Mr Cool himself reading stuff coming from highly " qualified " Morons.
Good God, how is it we never thought about hiring the whole of you to fly this doomed Concorde, it would have spared us and 109 german pax a whole lot of sorrow.
On this however one thing I will not let you pompous and mean a......les do, is tarnish Christian Marty's memory and most of all profesionalism that I witnessed first hand for quite a few years flying with him on other aircraft types.
To compare him to Teneriffe KLM Captain is simply outrageaous to anyone who knew him and worked with him for he was the EXACT OPPOSITE !!! Seeing his name on your roster made you look foward to going to work as opposed to some other fellows and that's including a lot of major airlines I've been close to in my carreer. They actually sounded a lot like you Guvnor.
He never thought of himself as a hero but was just taking his various passions to the very limit,like crossing the Atlantic on a windsurf board at a time where there was no sponsoring and almost no publicity. It was the same with paragliging. Watching this event now dating more than 20 years you'll have to admit that the man had balls.
He wasn't the type like some of you to just reshape the world gulping one pint after another just watching their bellies grow as the years go by.
He was caring to his crew, he who ate like a rabbit because of his sports would show up at sign on with a bag of freshly baked croissants for his crew he had never met before when he himself didn't touch the stuff. As to CRM, being a young F/O then, I was coming back from work thinking what a great pilot I was. That's how Christian Marty made everyone who flew with him feel.But that may be a bit to human for you morrons so I'll go back to your technical rethoric.
In all the years where I've flown with him if I was to use one word to qualify him, it would be Mr Extra carefull and I remember on one occasion I wasn't happy with one of the options offered and he had no qualm at all going my way and making me feel it was the best decision in the world when there was undoubtly a million others. Pretty damn gratifying for a young F/O I tell you.
I also did fly with the F/E with whom I never was on the best speaking terms, but hey, that's life. As to the way he worked on the " whale " he was thoroughly pro.
Finally if the F/O hadn't been happy with what was going on during pre flight, trust me he would have just gone home. He was the most senior tech crew on the fleet and not some kind of wishie-washie yes man who accepts anything.
As to the way he should have flown the aircraft being a delta wing, you may have a point, that is sipping your coffee in your Garfield slippers while Mrs Buket is cooking you warm breakfast on your aniversary day.
In the real world in such a stressfull, out of the ordinary situation, you'll instinctively dig into your experience which in their case, like it would be in BA, was sub sonic airliners.
30 years of subsonic experience with no major call versus 1 year with on top of that the murkiest of situation ( 3 minutes flights all together explosion, fire etc ) that in my opinion sums it up.
Reading you you would think you guys recover a major situation every morning after breakie.
Now, Jackoro or who ever hides behind this maybe, since you're a journo, you'd like to make those accusations of encouraging the breaking of rules at Air France again, under your real name of course, I would enjoy seeing you sued, unless of course you can substantiate that. Get credentials and get your ass over here to have a look for yourself.
Why doesn't BA pack its tanks the way AF does ? Guess what, just a couple hundred miles more between CDG and JFK. Had you gotten your toosh on a Concorde, you'd want your tanks extra full.
That this led to the explosion through impact, that' s the official cause now isn't it ? Did BA have their tanks carpeted with Kevlar ? I think not.
Finally why didn't any current or former BA Concorde pilots contribute to your very valuable insights ??? I'm sure you'll find the answer yourself.
Forgive me for putting the lid back on the toilet bowl so soon but I need a breath of fresh air.

27th Aug 2001, 16:16
OK then, 'wallabie', two simple questions:

Why did 'Mr Extra Careful' apparently elect to exceed a known limit by commencing the take-off overweight? Why was there no crew discussion following the take-off clearance indicating a surface wind substantially different to that apparently used for calculation of RTOW?

Some might ponder the 'risk acceptance' of a commercial pilot whose other exploits you chronicle so vividly?

Less of the jingoism appearing in this thread would be of benefit. It is both the true facts of the accident and the lessons learned from the accident which matter.

[ 27 August 2001: Message edited by: BEagle ]

Sick Squid
27th Aug 2001, 16:24
Thank you Wallabie. That is one of the best posts I have seen on PPRuNe in years, and puts humanity into the perspective.

The Guvnor
27th Aug 2001, 16:42
Wallabie - have just gone over the full seven pages of this thread and I can't see any attack on Capt Marty as a person.

There is however a great deal of questioning of the lack of CRM on board the aircraft - and that's a fact, as reflected in the BEA CVR transcripts.

This, as with every other disaster, is composed of a chain of events which principally seem to point at Air France as the main source of the problems.

To recap Jackonicko's summary:

ADP for pi$$ poor FOD control?
ADP for compromising safety in the interests of using a 'quieter' runway?
Air France engineering for the reasons mentioned?
Air France management for allegedly allowing/encouraging a culture in which cavalier disregard of rules and regs was possible?
Air France for not incorporating existing ADs on tyres and tanks?
The Captain for taking an overweight aircraft, not rechecking the weight after the wind direction changed, and allowing himself to get slow enough to lose control, instead of force landing?
The FE for shutting down the engine
BAC/Aerospatiale for an inadequate original fuel tank design?
The tyre manufacturers?
Continental (or, if some reports are to be believed, airfield contractors) for the FOD?
The BEA for over-concentrating on one aspect in the report?
The CAA for rubber stamping it?

I'd say that's a fair reflection of all the issues at hand. Capt Marty might well have been a great guy - and he certainly sounds it - but at the end of the day it's the training and CRM that didn't cut the grade.

Would a BA Concorde in the same situation have got down in one piece? I'd like to think so. But the big difference is that in this particular situation, the BA training and maintenance - including full compliance with ADs, SBs and other safety issues - toghether with operational standards at LHR would have meant, in all probability, that such a chain of events wouldn't happen.

Touch wood.

27th Aug 2001, 17:10
Ok, let's just try and calm this down a tad. No-one wants to insult the dead, but nor does it do a good man's memory to try to pretend that anyone is ever entirely immune from making mistakes. From what one hears of Captain Marty he may have been the first to admit to his own weaknesses.

And if he made errors of judgement in this case, do you think he'd rather they were ignored and swept under the carpet, or used productively and sympathetically to prevent others from getting into trouble. The man you describe was a 'top bloke' who would have had the courage to accept blame or praise with an equally strong heart.

But I'd apologise if I've been guilty of treating him as a 'component' in this tragic event, rather than as a real and perhaps heroic human being.

And he may have made no errors at all. The issue of take off weight may have been some-one else's responsibility. But to pretend that there is no question about the issue does his memory no favours.

And on just the same basis, nor should we condemn the FE, although to raise questions about his actions ought to be fine.

I hate the verdict of pilot or aircrew error - it's often applied when it shouldn't be - and I sometimes wonder whether there isn't some truth in the joke about the accident investigator's explanation: "It's always pilot error, if nothing else it was an error for him to get up and go to work that morning!"

But sometimes we all make mistakes, but even when we do, they may not be our fault. Even if Captain Marty made an error of judgement, that doesn't necessarily mean that he was to blame - hence the concerns as to whether his environment conditioned him to act as he did.

But let's keep an open mind. Let's ask the questions and wait for the answers. There's no need for pre-judgement or insult.

Nor should this become an anti-French/anti-English issue.

Kramer: You are either very stubborn, or something else. No-one's pretending that a forced landing is easy, or necessarily survivable. People have died trying to put Cessnas down into perfect fields. But it's clear that any aircraft (Concorde including) can pull off a forced landing as long as the pilot doesn't lose control. It's then a matter of not hitting an obstacle so hard that the deceleration kills everyone on board, or of being trapped in the wreckage and burning to death. Concorde's chances were never more than so-so. But the chances of surviving the classic low-speed-loss of control-stall-spin are non existant. And if you have a CPL you need to tell us you understand that, because no passenger deserves to fly with someone whose instinct will be to 'stretch the glide' rather than put down safely in a field.

Mglof: Please explain the mass of green and brown fields on the satellite photo of the area between Le Bourget and CDG See p.3, between the red 6 and the Le Bourget threshold. Please explain why my visual memory is playing such tricks, since whenever I've flown in that area, it's looked pretty open to me.

You asked how a lighter take off would have 'modified the fate of the fly'. The aircraft would have accelerated quicker, rotated earlier, and may not have veered off the centreline, with less weight on the tyre and FOD, the tyre may not have burst, there may have been no ignition source, the aircraft might have been able to reach safe flying speed and may not have departed from controlled flight when it did. Crucially though, a tyre is more likely to burst if the aircraft is overweight. Is that enough?
You also ask how long the No.2 engine would have provided thrust had it not been shut down. No-one knows for certain - but certainly for longer than it was given the chance to, and any thrust is useful, for the maximum possible time.
It doesn't matter whether or not the crew knew that another engine might fail, good practise dictated that they kept the No.2 going until they reached V2 and a safe height.

I have enormous sympathy for your loss - Captain Marty was clearly a friend and an inspiration to you. You pay an eloquent tribute to his humanity and spirit - he sounds as though he was a great loss.

But I'm sorry you choose to write anyone who questions the accident report off as beer-drinking 'morons', and then choose to pour scorn on us collectively and individually. Yes, I am a journalist and only a PPL, so yes, I may not have been able to save the aircraft had I been in Marty's position (though some of the experienced heavy jet Captains responding here may never have accepted the jet in the first place), but let's keep calm, and, if possible, friendly. And rather than insulting us, collectively, and emptily questioning our 'qualifications' why not point out where our interpretations are in error. It's not just a journalist raising these questions and expressing concern, remember, it's a group of professional aviators - your peers and equals. (And even the journalist is trying to get expert input, rather than simply going off and writing a 'Shock! Horror! Exposé!' type of story). If you have an argument, then argue your case. Abuse really is not an acceptable substitute.

Ignoring your 'slippers and breakfast wisecrack' the point is that all pilots (PPLs onwards) should be trained to react to the unexpected not emotionally and calling upon their experience, but by applying the appropriate procedures and pre-planned emergency drills. Rigorous adherence to such procedures is never more vital than at these times of great stress, as you, as an ATPL yourself, must realise. When they throw an emergency at you in the sim, do you think back to how you tackled it that time in the Beech Baron, or do you go into 'mental autopilot' and apply the appropriate actions for the A320, or whatever?

With regard to a culture of rule breaking - it's just a theory, based on the fact that the crew that day patently ignored weight limits. You can't have it both ways, either they did it because of something within themselves, or because the company encouraged them to think that it was OK to cut that kind of corner. Or if you have an alternative explanation, then please put our minds at rest - everyone finds the original explanation extremely worrying and frightening.

I don't think your remark that Air France packs its tanks 'extra full' because of the 'couple of hundred extra miles to JFK' helps your argument. If a route can be flown with the aircraft operating within its agreed and certified limits, great. If it can't then you need a refuelling stop, or to offload some payload, and not ignore the limits and take off overweight. One can only hope that I'm misinterpreting your point (you don't mean that AF Concordes deliberately and routinely take off overweight or unsafe 'cos that's the only way to reach JFK, I know), and I hope and pray that other Air France personnel don't have a cavalier disregard for weight limits.

But the key point to you is that rather than stooping to insult and invective, why not calmly answer the genuine concerns that are being expressed here?

Why did the aircraft take off overweight?
Why was there no recalculation after the wind changed?
How about the C of G questions?
Why did the FE shut down the engine when he did, before he'd been asked to do so?
Why are these factors irrelevant? Why aren't they listed as being contributory factors in the accident?
How about the missing undercarriage spacer? How about the questions over the origin of the FOD, the effect of the runway light ingestion, the use of that runway, etc.
Why did this tyre/tank problem (the latest in a long list) end in tragedy? Why was there a fire in this case?
What was the ignition source?
Rather than insulting us, why not accept my apology for my unintended insult, and justify the simplistic conclusion that tyre failure alone caused all of this tragic carnage. Most of us would love to be proved wrong....

27th Aug 2001, 17:28
Sick Squid,

I was moved myself by the obvious sincerity and loyalty expressed by Wallabie.

But his rudeness, and his refusal to engage in reasoned debate tempered my admiration for his post.

I'm astonished and disappointed that a forum moderator (moderate?) should go on public record as saying that this was:

one of the best posts I have seen on PPRuNe in years

Can I remind you of some of Wallabies bon mots?

"how presumptious of me to think I could remain Mr Cool himself reading stuff coming from highly " qualified " Morons."

"Good God, how is it we never thought about hiring the whole of you to fly this doomed Concorde, it would have spared us and 109 german pax a whole lot of sorrow."

"On this however one thing I will not let you pompous and mean a......les do,"

"like some of you to just reshape the world gulping one pint after another just watching their bellies grow as the years go by."

"that may be a bit too human for you morrons"

"you may have a point, that is sipping your coffee in your Garfield slippers while Mrs Buket is cooking you warm breakfast on your aniversary day."

"Forgive me for [/b]putting the lid back on the toilet bowl so soon but I need a breath of fresh air[/b]."

I know we get pretty robust on PPRuNe, but I'd have thought that while Wallabie may not have over-stepped the mark, praising this sort of juvenile, scatalogical, illogical nonsense has made you sir, look like a fool.

Bad show!

27th Aug 2001, 18:19

Like you I was surprised at Sick Squids comment about it being the best posting for years.

27th Aug 2001, 18:27
'Sick squid'

I agree wih Jackonicko, whose journalistic efforts seek no more than the truth and accuracy in this tragedy, and ask you to clarify your perceived support for the somewhat emotional prose posted by 'wallabie'. No-one has criticised the efforts of the late Capt Marty and his crew for their attempts to recover their aircraft from an impossible situation nor belittled them in any other way.

There is, however, great concern at the CRM culture apparently evident from the CVR transcript which may have given rise to a take-off outside Scheduled Performance regulations and which may have contributed to an uncommanded engine shut-down at a critical phase of flight.

[ 27 August 2001: Message edited by: BEagle ]

27th Aug 2001, 18:29

Well said. I have followed this thread with interest. It is unfortunate that emotion keeps clouding the issues that you and BEagle, among others, so eloquently raise in order that we all learn from the whole tragedy.

Sick Squid

Sorry, I have to say that your post was not only inappropriate but also plain wrong, if that was the one of the best posts you have seen then I would hate to see the one of the worst!

27th Aug 2001, 20:13
Having operated quite a few "fuel critical" sectors in (subsonic) aircraft, it can be very tempting to "gild the lily" when it comes to fuel on board and observance of the RTOW rather than risk an enroute fuel stop or being on minimums at destination. Had this become a common practice?

What was the weather/delays like in JFK on the day in question?

How was the Zero Fuel Weight (sorry Mass) of the aircraft computed. Were assumed weights for pax and handbaggage used?

On one aircraft I flew we made regular flights to a destination which was critically landing weight limited. We decided to weigh all hold AND hand baggage to ensure compliance, rather than using assumed weights.

Were the passengers on the AF Concorde "normal" in terms of weight, etc?

This would be yet another factor to add to the issue of being, allegedly, over the RTOW.

None of my comments are intended to cast any aspersions on the crew who must RIP.

27th Aug 2001, 20:53
But let's keep an open mind. Let's ask the questions and wait for the answers. There's no need for pre-judgement or insult.

Nor should this become an anti-French/anti-English issue.

This is however exactly what it has become, so do be a blessed puppy and give me a break.
Emotional post ?? Beg pardon !!!??
You can't have it both ways gents, clearly cross the line of decency ( I'm not only refering to this thread ) and change the rules reversing to the tight upper lip attitude when it suites you. I have seen far more abusing posts on this forum in all the time I've been watching it. By the look of it, no one on this forum can claim the medal of verbal restrain. Your culture doesn't own the quality of having the control of oneself and the scores of football supporters that you are kind enough to send out to our shores are a loud example. So sorry if I've hurt your sensitivity but I'll react in the very same way every time I see the need to.
I just cannot obide Christian Marty being compared to this KLM guy all those years ago as well as the smirk behind the " super hero within his compagny " remark.

Now I'll answer WHAT I KNOW and will not pretend I was on the board of investigation.
Capt Marty was the rostered skipper and no one chickened out. The initially rostered F/O however called in sick ( welllllll before sign on ) that day and F/O Marcot replaced him coming from Haut de Savoie where he lived.
May I just remind you that however slacky you would like to portray us, Air France didn't pull out this fuelling procedure out of its sleeve but with the Aircraft maker's blessing. Might I be as bold as trying to wisper British Aerospace ??? and yes Aerospatiale. Wether on this particular flight or others, this is the way it has always been done not implying in any way an overweight take off.
Is it a culture to encourage breaking the rules ??
Well, if you stick to the " Allo, Allo " picture of the french, then most certainly yes. If you're talking real world, which I trust you are, then bloody oath no !
Does this mean that, as I am typing someone is not breaking some rules and getting away with it, I'm not taking the bet.
Sorry to hit below the belt, but what about this BA crew who was caught on candid camera pissed out of their brain in Barcelona at 5 am just before operating a flight ? In my wildest dreams I would never imagine that this is compagny policy to have its pilot have a little drink before sunrise. Was worth mentioning I think.
All I know is what I see, every day. The pressure of ontime, maxload etc is there and beyhond compagny policy it's up to every Captain to take his reponsability knowing what he'll have to face if things go wrong.
Christian Marty would have faced his responsabilities hadn't he died. I have no clue as to wether he knew about those ( 200 kg ??? )overweight.
What caused the fire ? Well, you know, according to the official report a piece of a possibly Continental DC10 that had taken off minutes before. The runway had been inspected routinely like it should have that day. Why did it take fire that time and not the other time in 1976 ? Probably because we were lucky then and had it caught fire you very well know that in the context of the time ( taking off from Washington ) it would have meant the end of Concorde.
Why did the F/E shut number 2 without being asked ? I don't know. Is this standard AF CRM ? Nope, it is not.
Why did capt Marty try to gain altitude against speed ? What do you do when you lose an engine, actually 2, can't retract your gear and are awfully close to the ground ? My bet would be that he tried to stick to V2.
Why didn't he make it to le Bourget ?
How many of you take off from 26 L ??
Going off to England you always get the northern runway so I don't think you really get a clear picture. To think that anyone could make it to le Bourget at the kind of speed they were and barely manoeuvering is ludicrous. I leave from that runway 80 % of the time and even with my " fly by wire " wheelbarrow I would have a lot of trouble making it at max weight.
Why didn't Air France retro fitted the landing gear with that protection panel ?
Most possibly to either save money or because they didn't think it necessary and in both cases, if proven, they were wrong.
I praise your " compagny " patriotism, but didn't you people smash an aircraft because the F/O retracted the flaps witout being asked ? It must have been around your time.
Only arrogant fools can think and be sure they belong to the ultimate flawless outfit
I would hate to know one of them is at the helm when going on holliday.
Spare me the " Lordy Lord " shocked tone of voice when you're caught playing dirty. Most of your posts so far have rather been on the pompous and xenophobic side of the fence.
Have a nice one mate.

what next
27th Aug 2001, 21:09

This thread has been very interesting so far and even the over-emotional contribution(s) contain valuable information. By the way: Around Christmas a German magazine published a long and very personal article on behalf of Captain Marty that in essence contained the same observations as those described by 'wallabie'.

I have just a few observations / remarks / questions however:

1.) Only one hour before takeoff, a thrust reverser was repaired hurriedly. To me it seems logical therefore, that the F/E shut down the burning engine so quickly: He may have assumed (as did all the mass media and 'experts' in the first hours afer the crash) that the problem was originating from a badly repaired reverser. In this case, an immediate(!!!) shutdown of the affected engine would have been the only sensible option! Maybe the crew even discussed and briefed this point while the repairs were executed? At least my experience after ten years of commercial flying is that the most dangerous aeroplanes are those that come right out of the maintenance hangar (and this in one of the most regulated countries in the world).

2.) I read the CVR transcripts several times but did find nothing related to stall warning or stickshaker noises. The only aural warnings (apart from the fire horns) were, on the contrary, 'pull up' prompts from the GPWS. Why then should the captain have pushed the nose down? I do not fly jets myself but in his situation - without a clear stall warning - I think I would have acted exactly the way he did. Pushing the nose down in this situation is a final decision after which the only option is a crash landing between the fields, highways and houses. As long as he had some control left and no clear indication of an imminent stall, he had no reason to take this decision.

3.) I strongly doubt that the Concorde could have been evacuated after whatever landing it may have made. The rear end was already burning - all exits would have led directly into the flames - and the front end would probably have sustained heavy damages on impact or during the collapse of the half-retracted landing gear.

4.) I think, that their CRM was not so bad after all. The roles were clearly distributed and everybody performed his task as good as he could. There simply wasn't enough time for double-checking and discussions. Especially the F/O as non-handling pilot did exactly what I learned in my CRM course: He handled communications, decided upon the landing site, monitored the instruments. Maybe better communications before takeoff could have saved them, but recalculating the v-speeds and required field length in respect to the tailwind would not have prevented them from taking off, I suppose.

Thanks for listening, max

The Guvnor
27th Aug 2001, 21:17
Wallabie - actually, it was an overrun and the point with that episode was that the crew landed heavy without flaps ... which caused the overrun. It was, however, an extremely good example of poor CRM.

The rules are there for a reason, otherwise everyone would be operating on gut instinct as to allowable weights - and that just isn't acceptable. I saw it many times in my African days - there were some highly skilled pilots who really pushed the envelope ... and some pushed it too far. When you're doing that with other people's lives it is not acceptable. This is clearly what happened on this occasion.

As you say, Air France were wrong not to have fitted the protective panel to the landing gear - not just because they probably didn't want to save money, but because it was an Airworthiness Directive.

And finally, he wasn't "200kgs" overweight. He was 2,130kgs over the MTOW and 6,000kgs over the RTOW. That's clearly unacceptable, in anyone's eyes.

A and C
27th Aug 2001, 21:19
With all this talk of why did the FE shut the engine down without comformation have you considered that with all that was going on at the time that the command to shut the engine down was visual ?.
I know that this is not SOP but when the pressure is on some times these things happen ,ask your selfs how often have you raised the flaps on a visual signal because the PF could see that you are talking to ATC at the time ?

27th Aug 2001, 21:28
So when can we look forward to reading about it ?

As they do things their way in France we do things our way in the UK.

With all the stick that BA got originally for initially continuing services, and the millions they have spent in the meantime armouring the fuel tanks - There is still no protection against ingesting a runway edge light that you just trashed....

Rock on Citzen Kane.

Sick Squid
27th Aug 2001, 21:59
OK, maybe "best" wasn't the word to use... I meant moving, as I was deeply affected by the sentiment behind Wallabies words and rattled that post off.

You can criticise me all you like, read bias into my words, even call me fool, won't change the fact that it moved me... I may have to act impartialy most of the time, but certainly never feel that way. We can all make mistakes.


Edit- 30th August 2001 1530Z
This thread was closed (NOT by me, I hasten to add) because it had reached the 100-post limit. This lessens server load by reducing the number of long threads on the BB.

The debate continues, after a brief false start, HERE-Concorde Accident Part 2 (http://www.pprune.org/cgibin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=1&t=015202&p=1), hopefully without the rancour that tainted this thread somewhat.


[ 30 August 2001: Message edited by: Sick Squid ]