View Full Version : BBC Concorde Incompetence

5th Nov 2002, 17:29
Total scaremongering on behalf of the BBC. I almost can't believe it, it's as bad as the tabloids. Concorde shuts down an engine and descends and slows to a subsonic cruise speed/level, and the BBC start reporting the aircraft "plunging" and all the usual bullshit about women crying and babies screaming. And for this they extort a licence fee.

BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/2406971.stm)

5th Nov 2002, 18:14
But surely most of the people (?) reporting aircraft mishaps on pPrune are the same as those of the Beeb and follow a well worn format.....'Just heard a BoeingBus 307 has come off the runway at EGKX..NO ONE HURT...THANK GOD... WELL DONE THE CREW....(any good pix?)'
And quite honestly,if I had paid what those punters had paid to get to or from New York on that old thing...I'd be (S).....hiting ... myself if anything went wrong.Anyone who has flown on it (and I have, many times)will tell you,it doesn't breeze along;it's a busy feeling plane and any slight hickup would be worrying.
Don't get me wrong..if you are going to New York it is the only way to travel(great wine list..but on the day,only one sort of white,one of red,two champagnes and half a dozen 'designer' waters),a cabin crew who think they're God's Gift,and a flight crew who welcome you to the 'Concorde Experience' spoken through a nasal mike as though paying that sort of money deserves some sort of a circus ride.
I don't like Greg Dyke's politics..but give his reporters a break peeerrleezz

5th Nov 2002, 19:20
Sorry don't agree. An aircraft shuts down engine and proceeds to it's planned destination. It might have been worth a couple of lines, buts that all. That the BBC made a headline story out of it is bad enough, to add the standard tabloid rubbish is worse, but to then gratuitously throw in a reference to the Concorde crash, strikes me as the absloute worst of scaremongering and sensationalism. I might have expected it of the Star, but not the BBC. How low are the mighty fallen.

5th Nov 2002, 20:47
Its totally pathetic.

Sound like during the 15min decent to 33,000 someone dropped a plate or two. How they can equate this to July 2000 is beyond belief.

It doesn't really go into too many technical details (if any) but I guess the "bump" may have been an engine surge. Not too uncommon, not too pleasant on Concorde.

5th Nov 2002, 20:47
Selling point of the Concorde is speed and exclusivity and one pays accordingly ($ 7000 me thinks?). Any refund if the merchandise is not delivered?

With the Paris incident in the back of my head my mind would go wondering a bit too, guess not many people aren't as cool as ORAC?



Select Zone Five
5th Nov 2002, 23:08
I agree with ORAC. It's irresponsible reporting, written as if the aircraft and occupants were in mortal danger. Whatever happened to reporting the facts?

I've been on many an aircraft when crockery has crashed to the floor in light to moderate chop! The same chop caused passengers to be frightened...so what?

As Mr ORAC says...Total scaremongering by the BBC

Self Loading Freight
6th Nov 2002, 01:57
It's a bit ironic. Concorde is the only aircraft I know where the safety card (at least on BA) says what'll happen if it has to get downstairs in a hurry, and I think a lot of good would be done if that was standard on every pressurised flight.

If everyone knew that there are things that can go wrong that need a dive, and that normally they're not particularly hazardous, then the "Death Plunge At Thirty Thousand Feet" school of reporting will be out of date overnight. After all, there are no reports in the press that "Flight BA456 was gripped by terror when the air was sucked out and oxygen masks were desperately strapped on by the passengers". Everyone knows that this might happen as they're told about it every flight, so that's never news. The odd time it actually happens, it gets reported with the emphasis on the dive because the unexpected rapid descent makes the pax think that whatever's gone wrong means the aircraft is dropping out of the sky.

In this case, it's only news because most people don't know what Concorde does when it loses power *and* because for most people today Concorde + Engine Trouble = Paris. One is ignorance, one is understandable. Just because both are objectively nothing to worry about doesn't make this story non-news. It is news, and people will be talking about it tomorrow. Journalists would be falling down on the job if they didn't write up stuff that people were interested in. Where the Beeb is culpable is in not saying that the loss of an engine in cruise on Concorde isn't exactly unknown (anyone know what the figures are?), and that while it's always a matter of concern the normal procedures were followed and, as usual, the safety of the flight wasn't threatened. I think the story should have been reported, but that it should have been reported better so that next time, it's not a story.

If the carriers were more candid with the customers about what can actually happen on a flight, then there'd be far less for journalists to overblow.


6th Nov 2002, 03:56
For crying out loud...
We sure have media all over Concorde, but check this one out. That happenned 3 weeks ago to a B747 an route from the US to Japan and no one notices/reports... Maybe because there were no dead, no hole in the ground, no pilot error and no drunks on the flight deck. Just lucky 400+ sobs on board.


Anthony Carn
6th Nov 2002, 06:37
When a subject relating to my profession is reported on the TV or in the newspapers, I used to be amazed at the frequency of inaccurate and overly dramatic reporting. The only change these days is that I am no longer amazed.

Makes you wonder what garbage we're being fed in general and whether the licence fee or the cost of the newspaper is'nt money wasted.

I could give them some news regarding the airline industry -- but on second thoughts maybe I won't; I need to keep my job !

6th Nov 2002, 06:46
Stories must be reported of course; but what is appalling is the ignorance of the people who people trust for giving exact news. If it's not ignorance then it is something ethically inadmissible for a news professional, distorting a new like you wrap up a candy bar in colored paper to make it more appetizing.

6th Nov 2002, 09:34
Any of you guys actually fly Concorde or were on the flight in question to substentiate your argument that it was a non-event?

6th Nov 2002, 10:35
The irony is that the pax should get a lot more worried if they are halfway across the pond in a two engined flying machine which suffers an engine failure compared to the same situation on Concorde.

The main problem is that we do not tell the media that flying is potentially risky. If you are going to pack scores of people into narrow tubes and shoot them through the air at 1200 mph supported on wings full of inflammable explosive then nobody should be surprised if very occasionally things go wrong.

There should be a Government Health Warning on all a/c which says something like "Flying is Risky - Possibility of Death of Serious Injury - Only Board if you accept this Risk"!

6th Nov 2002, 10:51
Best would be if there's no pax at all in the airplane, would make flying a lot more fun.....but wait....darn...they pay for the wages.....no pax, no flying....double darn.....well guess all them Biggles still have to deal with these ignorant people in the back......life's hard sometimes.....



6th Nov 2002, 11:22
- I think if you look at MOST posts on Pprune after an incident there is some informed speculation on cause, concern for any injuries, and an awful lot of "lets wait for the enquiry".
As for Concorde being a "busy" aircraft, I have flown in it and, apart from the acceleration at T.O. and going supersonic, the thing I found most impressive was that it DID just "breeze along", albeit faster and higher than most, and even as it goes through M1 it does not even ripple the champagne!:cool: :p

6th Nov 2002, 12:33
Fireflybob in your rush to get your point across you have invented a new oxymoron "inflammable explosive". How's that work then? And to think all those maintenance guys getting licences who thought that a fuel/air mixture got burnt in the combustion chambers.......

6th Nov 2002, 12:47
Methinks that there is too much protestation here not supported by facts.

I have seen first hand the alarm that can envelop passengers when an engine cocks up with severe imbalance at high windmill speeds. It doesn't subside just because you shut it (the engine) down. Videos of what's going on in the cabin are alarming to anybody who doesn't understand that this is nothing more than sustained turbulence for several minutes.

I doubt that the passenger manifest on this aircraft are your typical first time touristy passengers. Could it be that the news is simply reporting the passenger's feelings.

6th Nov 2002, 12:54
Yeah! Right! I did chuckle to myself because in several BBC reports, one of the passengers was quoted as saying that "crockery fell to the ground during the descent". So -- does that particular Concord have a big whole in the bottom through which all the crockery fell through to the ground? If it does, then I guess the passengers would have some cause for concern ...

To be slightly more serious -- just how quickly did it descend from cruise to a lower altitude? And what did that do to their fuel burn rate? My understanding is that Concord doesn't really have the fuel capacity for low altitude operation, so that could mean things getting a bit iffy ...

Web-Footed Flyer
6th Nov 2002, 13:02
Maybe this will some more fuel on the fire !!!!


6th Nov 2002, 14:24
Panman, thank you for pointing out the new oxymoron but I am somewhat at a loss as to how you presume that my posting was made in a "rush" .

All I am pointing out is that an activity such as aviation carries risk of injury or even worse death. That it not to say that sensible precautions are not taken or lessons learned or to belittle the tragedy of even one life being lost.

Yes flying is relatively safe but many seem to be promoting the idea that it is completely risk free.

6th Nov 2002, 15:40
Looks like it is get Concorde season at the BBC this week.

Here we go again! :mad: :mad:


LGW Vulture
6th Nov 2002, 15:45

"The engine failure, which happened two hours into the flight, was due to an engine fault that is not specific to Concorde, an Air France spokeswoman told BBC News Online"

So if this is true, what else flies with Olympus engines then?


.........Shall I stick to Bizjets???................................

Jet II
6th Nov 2002, 16:21
Vulcan B1?


Let me get this right - last Monday and AirFrance Concorde had an IFS - Last sunday a BA Concorde had an IFS and last wednesday another BA Concorde had to slow down to to a fault with the windows.

As there are only around 13 aircraft flying this doesn't seem like a very reliable aircraft at the moment. Does anyone know how the despatch reliability of the Concorde fleet compares with other types?.

As for the original report about the SLF panicking - well what do you expect, they were French.
:D :D

callsign Metman
6th Nov 2002, 16:54
LGW Vulture...

The Navies (sp?) of the Netherlands, UK, France and Belgium use the RR Olympus engine in their vessels. Perhaps there is a nut or bolt common to the two engines!



6th Nov 2002, 17:31
The problem is that most flights these days are so uneventful that whan something unusual happens passengers get scared easily.

I remember when I was about 7 years old (30 years ago gulp) a flight to the Channel Islands that was so turbulant that glasses hit the overhead lockers. These days aircraft fly higher and seem better able to handle the turbulance. Much quieter too.

6th Nov 2002, 17:58
The AF Concorde incident, as far as reporters are concerned, is very easily explainable. With Concorde's historic crash in France, any tiny thing now going wrong with the plane will be reported.

As a former reporter, what I take exception to is how it is being reported. Back in my day when I worked for a well-known news agency called UPI, we had an aviation reporter by the name of Bob Serling, brother of Rod Serling, the creator of Twilight Zone.

Bob new everything there was to know about flying and airplanes. In fact he wrote the factual book, "The Electra Story," and a novel, "The President's Plane Is Missing," which was later made into a movie.

During those days at UPI in Washington very little went through the copy editor's desk that Serling had not personally approved.

Being a former pilot, myself, I sympathize with you.

A pilot, like an engineer, has to be precise -- very precise -- in what he/she is doing and taking all facts into consideration. With the AF Concorde going down from 50,000 something feet to 30,000 something feet, was probably by the book in this kind of incident.

Unfortunately, many reporters out there today are not specialists, but rather generalists and they could not tell an Airbuss from a Boeing. That's problem number one.

Problem number two is that airline companies, in this instance AF, tend to clam up when an incident like this happens. God knows, they pay their PR people on staff, plus PR greasers on the outside hundreds of thousand of dollars/euros to keep a smile on the airline's face. In many cases, they have failed to do this, including this incident.

Damage control should have been the first one out with a statement that this is normal procedure in this sort of incident. Sure, there is news in an engine out story, especially on the Concorde, but it could have been just that.

7th Nov 2002, 07:37
I think some people may be missing the point here. The fact is Concorde has had anumber of incidents in recent times. For such a tiny fleet, I would say it is unacceptable. How many concordes are in operation today? 8, 9? How many flights are there daily? 3, 4?

Someone mentioned a 744 incident, how many 744 flights take place on a daily basis?

It seems to me that concorde has a far higher propensity for serious incidents then other commercial jets. You might say that's because of the complex nature of the aircraft, but I would imagine the airworthiness officers at the CAA and their french colleagues will be nervously looking at this trend.

Maybe someone can come up with the facts and prove me wrong.

7th Nov 2002, 07:57
OneWorld22 is right. concorde is not just another airliner. It holds a special place in the hearts of aviation enthusiasts and joe-public too. And when anything goes wrong it is news. Maybe the journalism was a bit OTT but it's still worth reporting.

7th Nov 2002, 10:02
We live in the age of 24 hour news, sadly this means that reporters of both TV and Newspapers need to find something to write about to fill the column inches and our TV screens. This in my experience leads to a lot of speculation and poor reporting and this does not just apply to aviation stories.

I am reminded of the crash in New York last year of the A300 series aircraft, Sky News rolled out their so called aviation expert and a lot of fancy graphics. The so called aviation expert tried to explain how this "first generation fly-by-wire aircraft" may have come to grief over and over again! Need I say more.

Reporters are word smiths not necessarily experts on the subjects they report, the good ones do research and check their facts. Sadly there are fewer good reporters around it seems. They are also no doubt under pressure from their employers to fill the endless hours and column inches to satisfy our thirst for news. It seems these days investigations and prosecutions are carried out by the press in the public arena rather than the courts, at least from Joe publics point of view.

This story on the BA Concorde flight is another example of poor reporting by some hack under pressure, who has little knowledge of the subject he/she is dealing with and has not checked his/her facts.

To those good reporters out there I am sorry if this sounds like an attack on all in your profession, it is not intended as such. The News media performs an essential role in a free society and perhaps we have to accept that often the standard of reporting is not very high.

As to the safety of Concorde, I have never had the privilege of flying this fine piece of our aviation heritage, nor am I an expert in statistics relating to aircraft accidents. However, it seems to me this aircrafts operateing enviroment is more extreme than any subsonic aircraft and it would seem reasonable that there is a higher risk of a mechanical failure as a result. So perhaps it is not reasonable to compare it with say a 747 for example, just a thought!;)

7th Nov 2002, 10:14
OneWorld22, so out of the 747-400's around the world do we get to hear about any of these incidents that will happen daily on such a large fleet.................no.

So how can we make comparisons.

I fly an aircraft type that has regular probs that are managed by the crew and we carry on . There are probably 100 odd of this type flying and I bet there are 10 such incidents a day on this fleet that go unreported. As opposed to Concordes' reporting any little sniff or sneeze as if its a major disaster. That makes Concorde statistically look worse than the world average for fleet types.

It's all B**LS**T this reporting lark.

The BEEB called the Luxair F50 accident a regional jet last night! God if only we could say that on our PA's to pax, perhaps they would not notice the big prop thing wizzing around outside. We know its really a jet inside but it ain't called such.

Here's an example of reporting.

There was the BWIA L1011 aircraft that aborted its takeoff the other day at Manchester. Now I only heard about it from this wee website. The L1011 is of the same vintage as Concorde. I bet if Concorde aborted at Heathrow it would cause quite a stirr. I would imagine that many Tristar mishaps go un-noticed. and yes there are probably around 80 odd still flying around somewhere. But then it ain't Concorde. If we had the stats compared to aircraft movements then we could compare.

I say give the old lady a rest.............she is the only thing we, the world has at the moment, lets be proud and let her keep providing the service that she deserves to give.

7th Nov 2002, 11:14
Panman, what makes you think "inflammable explosive" is an oxymoron?

7th Nov 2002, 12:14
Hey guys, you didn't read what I said, I'm asking for the stats. I mean how many BA 744 flights alone are there daily? How many SQ flights? And how many serious incidents occur?

I don't know, that's why I'm asking.

I accept that concorde operates in a unique way and I dare say that the concorde line maintenance guys are busier then most and probably have a nice juicy tech log to get through at LHR each day.
I flew the DC-8, 727, L1011 and 747-200/747-400. All aircraft of course have their problems, some are particular to the aircraft type, but, thanks to the redundancy built in we just get on with it.

But would the airworthiness officials say that because concorde is special that increased incidents are acceptable compared to other aircraft? Again I don't know that's why I'm asking.

Anyone have some good old facts?

Dave Gittins
7th Nov 2002, 12:24
From a purely non-involved bystanders point of view I would say BA's Concorde's have a pretty high dispatch reliability.

My office is in Teddington in SW London and when LHR are using 09 (which has been the case a lot this summer), the big beautiful bird turns right over here about 10.55 local every morning with about 90-95% regularity. If you don't see it, you sure as hell hear it.

I can't get that good in the PA-28.

It's a fantastic bird and one of a kind .... I hate all this knocking coz I wanna be able to see it go by for a lot of years yet.

7th Nov 2002, 23:17
Face it, these incidents are gonna keep cropping up until BA and AF decide Concorde's too old and creaky to be pushed around (or it runs out of spares...) and put it in a museum.

7th Nov 2002, 23:24
One of the more commendable developments of 'reactionary news' is that more and more newspapers are publishing the contact details of the person writing the story.

For example, the Daily Mirror's "Concorde is OK say chiefs" article was written by their business editor, Clinton Manning.....and the paper version (not the online for some reason) carried his email address as a footnote.

So, if you really feel strongly about his writing, why not politely set him straight? If he's a good journo (and there are some who frequent these boards) he'll take on board your comments and adjust his future writing accordingly.

Oh and the article is here (http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/allnews/page.cfm?objectid=12343905&method=full&siteid=50143) .

8th Nov 2002, 09:04
Which brings me back to a point I made on another thread, beware of what you post on these forums. Some reporters may treat some of the rumour and speculation as well informed fact!

It would not be the first time I have seen Newspaper reports that sound very like comments made on these forums! I remember not that long ago the Times referring to reports on a pilots forum.

Pprune is great fun and a good way to exchange views and information but there are no controls on who has access to the open forums. Uninformed comment could be taken out of context or worse treated as fact and be very damaging at times.

Sorry to be a party pooper, it's a free country, but I felt it needed saying.

8th Nov 2002, 11:36
Any of you guys actually fly Concorde or were on the flight in question to substentiate your argument that it was a non-event?
Normal 4-engine decel & descent proc (from the cruise climb at at Mach 2): select "Alt. Hold", disconnect autothrots. and E/O brings throttles back to 18 degrees lever angle, allow IAS to decrease from Mach 2 reading (about 490kts / FL 580-ish) to 350kts (M1.6 ish) and descend in IAS hold at 350kts. As Mach reduces, at M=1.5 select 32 degrees TLA (more power off). Maintain 350 Kts in descent, or level at subsonic cruise at M 0.95 (about F350 at normal landing weight).

3-engine decel & descent procedure is: Exactly the same. Marginally faster deceleration with 3 engines at 18 degrees TLA and one shut down - but not so you'd notice. And still more engines than a 777. And almost 100 mph faster.

2-engine decel & descent procedure: Exactly the same. Slightly lower subsonic cruise altitude for endurance and Mach=0.8. Faster than an A320 and the same number of engines.

No drama. No fuss. Reduced range due reduced efficiency subsonic may require diversion depending on the stage of flight (before halfway probably best to pop back to LHR and get another Concorde - good chance of still beating the 747 and yes, rebates are given depending on the exact details of the disruption - terms and conditions apply, please read details on the contract, if you're under 16 please get parent / guardian permission etc etc)

simon brown
8th Nov 2002, 12:52
It must have been just like the scene from Airport 80 the Concorde........not

The statement below from the AF official is somewhat cotradictory bearing in mind nothing in the air these days uses an Olympus engine and IS therefore Concorde related

"The engine failure, which happened two hours into the flight, was due to an engine fault that is not specific to Concorde, an Air France spokeswoman told BBC News Online.

A fin that limited air flow into the turbine had broken, she said, causing vibrations which prompted the pilot to shut down the engine and complete the flight at subsonic speed. "

I Didnt know you could take the "fin that limited the airflow" off an Olympus and shove it on a Trent....

I assume the "fin" mentioned is part of the regulation of the air into the engine and to my mind IS concorde related.

I cant see what the fuss is all about, engines are shut down all the time . Give the plane a break and concentrate on filling your newspapers with something more newsworthy....

what next...Man in PA28 tyre creep sensation:mad:

8th Nov 2002, 14:47
Is the "fin" she's talking about the ramps at the front of the engine that move in flight when supersonic to slow the airflow entering the engine? Anyone have detailed knowledge of this?

8th Nov 2002, 16:52
whats the difference between flammable and inflammable? yes youve got it they're both the same. petrol for example is inflammable and its explosive so an inflammable explosive is not an oxymoron!

8th Nov 2002, 17:28
Some years before the Paris Concorde tragedy, a very similar incident occurred at JFK. The fuel tank was punctured by debris thrown up from the u/c. Mercifully the mist didn't ignite and the a/c returned safely.
If the BBC/Mirror/Times whatever had run an article saying how close this had been to a tragedy what would the worthies of pprune had said. They would have dismissed it as speculation.
But that may have saved lives.

8th Nov 2002, 17:42
Effendi, yes but how can an in flight shutdown of an engine whilst enroute which is handled and managed in a routne manner be classified as being close to a "tragedy"?

The media reports tend to be based on emotion rather than facts.

8th Nov 2002, 18:00
You miss the point.
I obviously agree with you that an in flight shutdown is fairly routine.
But it comes in the wake of a tragedy that makes Concorde newsworthy.
I'm just suggesting that if the press had headlined the original Concorde incident, it might have been a good thing. But I have to say that I believe pprune would have dismissed it as press speculation and hype.

8th Nov 2002, 21:52
Let's just stop this one here...........

The first incident to which you refer was caused by a WHEEL rim failure, the WHEEL debris punctured the wing. As a result new wheels ("blue" wheels, in SSC parlance) were developed and became standard fit years before the AF accident.

So - no connection. Any amount of media histrionics would have made no difference.

8th Nov 2002, 22:07
At least there were three donks still pushing. Elderly ones but still three :D

Doesn't bother me too much flying on 777s though as the BA wines are keeping me fuzzy - not to mention that the engines aren't half French :D

8th Nov 2002, 22:40
Does a PAN declaration indicate the degree of seriousness of this incident? ......

cheers .....

9th Nov 2002, 15:52
Ok WOK, so the problem of foreign body penetration of the fuel tank - be it a Concorde wheel rim or debris - and the resultant fuel mist with an afterburner nearby, had been recognised and cured by the aviation industry prior to the fatal Paris disaster. I accept your word for it. But if I were a journalist, I'd immediately look up the definition of two words - staggering and complacency. As I said, it's possible........

Alpine Flyer
9th Nov 2002, 22:08
NW1, thanks for the description.

Reading it was a pleasure, I especially liked "reduced range d/t subsonic cruise".

I hope this grand a/c will be flying for a long time, giving me a chance to get to ride it as a pax.

I wonder if any replacement will ever come up.

10th Nov 2002, 08:33

Thanks for putting some facts in print. Bet the papers don't print them!

As many of us assumed a non event in a four engined aeroplane.

Had a couple of in flight shut downs myself, first was an RB211 and the second was a P&W, they were not half french either MarkD!:D ;)

11th Nov 2002, 11:26
Food for thought for anyone interested.

The current state of Concordes in the BA fleet may be the result of some pretty drastic cuts in the BA engineering section as highlighted on the BA forum of AIRMECH. Have a look and make your own mind up, especially the thread referring directly to concorde. If you can cut through all the union/management bashing and look at the underlying trend it does not inspire confidence.

11th Nov 2002, 16:52
Just a couple of thoughts in response to comments here. Oneworld22 - you discuss statistics, but it is difficult to draw conclusions either way with such a small fleet using statistics. Statistical analysis becomes more and more irrelevant as the population sample reduces. Some bloke won 9.8M on the lottery the other day with his first ever ticket - that does not indicate that the odds of winning the lottery are 100%. One problem may appear a few times in succession before resolution by engineering (as on any other type) - but with only 5 a/c on the fleet, you cannot extrapolate and and label the aircraft unreliable just because there aren't many of them.

The Olympus engine is a small diameter zero bypass pure jet and its rugged simplicity has proved itself many times in service, it can swallow massive amounts of debris before showing any distress (the testing which followed Gonesse proved the engine beyond any doubt - one engine was induced to a Hiroshima of a surge by injecting massive amounts of JetA into its throat at max. reheated thrust and it went on to perform dozens of start/flight/shutdown cycles under test in spite of significant internal damage). I believe it is the most rugged jet engine in airline service today. There have been a couple of shutdowns recently due to an indication error elsewhere. It has been resolved now, but when you have 4 engines it is better to err on the safe side (as I pointed out earlier, a shutdown is no big deal) even though it turned out to be fine. Just because this occurred on a very small fleet flying only one return service a day does not imply massive unreliablility, whatever the statistics can be made to extrapolate.

Effendi - you talk about fuel mist and afterburners, but it has been proved that the afterburners are not an ignition source. To emphasise the point - the fuel jettison pipe has a single outlet on the port side of the tail cone, in between and close to the engine exhaust assemblies, and we can actually jettison fuel safely with the afterburners going as a standard procudure - they do not ignite the misted fuel stream. The reason the Gonesse aircraft fuel leak was ignited was because the hole was massive and the leak rate enormous (hundreds of litres per *second*). A part of the return to service work done was to make sure that a hole and leak of such massive, unique proportions could not happen again, even though it was extruciatingly improbable in the first place (the mechanism leading to the tank rupture was not penetration by debris). There had been a couple of incidences of fuel tank penetration years ago but the leaks formed from such minor leaks did not present anything like the same situation as Gonesse (this a/c fuel tanks were not penetrated from outside by anything) - or the risk of ignition.

And Hovis - when engineering becomes under-resourced, you get aircraft late out of check - not under-checked. Our jets are looked after better and more thoroughly than any other type in service. They are very young in terms of use, hours and cycles, and are looked after by a band of very knowlegable enthusiasts. I'm not interested in putting my own life at risk, and I intend to fly them for as long as they're there......

11th Nov 2002, 20:23
Thanks for your post - two or three things if I may.
The tail cone jettison pipe is designed for exactly that and works well. But no one could or should design for a chunk of metal to cause a large leak in a wing fuel tank - far forward of the cone. If the afterburner was not the source of ignition, what was? An electrical short? Friction? Far more likely a two foot flame.
Secondly, you talk of minor leaks. I though the NY incident was very major.
Thirdly, you say of Gonesse that "the mechanism leading to the tank rupture was not penetration by debris". Don't understand that.
Lastly, you say of Gonesse that "this a/c fuel tanks were not penetrated by anything from outside". Please explain.

11th Nov 2002, 21:07
Since I'm here I'll try to do so in NW1's absence.

No Concorde fuel tank has ever been penetrated by tyre debris.

There were early incidents, as I have already stated, where WHEELs failed and debris punctured the tanks, resulting in small holes and leaks - orders of magnitude smaller than the Gonesse a/c. Also as previously related, the WHEELS were changed to prevent reoccurrence, successfully.

In the Gonesse accident the tank blew OUT, the mechanism being a hydraulically transmitted shock initiated by a very large piece of tyre rubber slapping the tank, precipitated by a hitherto unkown tyre failure mode. This created a massive fuek leak, VASTLY bigger than the early rim debris incidents. The rate allowed for the formation of an aerosol of kerosene which was capable of causing a massive fire......we know the rest.

The source of ignition has never been absolutely determined, but the reheats were ruled out. This was a bit of a surprise, initially, to all, but reasonably early in the investigation enough evidence, experimental and documentary, was put forward to prove this was the case. In the absence of an absolute answer all other conceivable sources were examined and several airframe and operational changes made to eliminate all feasible scenarios.

The only limitations on fuel jettison with reheats engaged is on which tanks you jettison from, in order to maintain fuel flow to the engines and reheats. I would have no problem with dumping while reheats are lit if circumstances require. (Again).

All of the above is in the public domain, mostly in the accident report.

To go back to my otiginal posting, a media frenzy wrt the initial wheel failures would no more have prevented Gonesse than the worldwide interest in the Comet 1 breakups prevented the JAL 747 disaster. (And, possibly it would seem, the recent Korean loss).

11th Nov 2002, 22:56
To return to the original theme, may I compliment AW & ST who have reported the incident as follows.

"An Air France Concorde landed safely at Paris-CDG airport on Nov. 5 after suffering an engine failure at supersonic speed over the North Atlantic. The transport was cruising at 60,000 ft. en route to France, when one of its four Rolls-Royce/Snecma Olympus 593s had to be shut down. The aircraft rapidly descended to about 33,000 ft., at subsonic speed, and continued its flight to its destination".

11th Nov 2002, 22:58
The tail cone jettison pipe is designed for exactly that and works well. But no one could or should design for a chunk of metal to cause a large leak in a wing fuel tankThe point is that the aircraft is designed to deliberately squirt fuel vapour between the afterburner exhausts - without incident. Your comment <<no one could or should design for a chunk of metal to cause a large leak in a wing fuel tank>> is facile - any aircraft suffering a high energy impact of debris on the wing under surface will leak fuel. Even if the afterburners could ignite a fuel leak (they cannot), the flame propagation speed would not result in the ignition reaching the leak source. And for the record - F-BTSC did not suffer a fuel tank penetration from an external source.Secondly, you talk of minor leaks. I though the NY incident was very major.The problem was contained - the aircraft design proved itself capable of coping with this incident safely - and steps were taken to prevent recourrence. Effectively. Shame this cannot be said of many other types.
Thirdly, you say of Gonesse that "the mechanism leading to the tank rupture was not penetration by debris". Don't understand that. The accident report is in the public domain.Lastly, you say of Gonesse that "this a/c fuel tanks were not penetrated by anything from outside". Please explain.F-BTSC's fuel tank was ruptured from the inside by a freak chain of events which was unique in aviation history. Not only was it an incredibaly improbable event - many millions of pounds and many thousands of man-hours were spent making sure those tiny odds became zero before return to service. This cannot be said of any other jet transport in service today which has suffered a fatal accident.

11th Nov 2002, 23:06

It would appear from remarks such as

....the mechanism leading to the tank rupture was not penetration by debris...Don't understand that....


....this a/c fuel tanks were not penetrated by anything from outside...Please explain....

that there are some significant gaps in your understanding of the Gonesse accident, and when you go on to say

...if the afterburner was not the source of ignition, what was? An electrical short? Friction? Far more likely a two foot flame...

you appear not to have read the findings of the French accident investigators, the BEA.

No real reason at all why you should have done, but it might be wise, before commenting further in public, to read the conclusions and findings that trained accident investigators came to over many months.

Who knows, you may just change some of your opinions!

The report is available, in English, by clicking here (http://www.bea-fr.org/anglaise/actualite/actuConcorde.htm) courtesy of, and copyright to, the BEA.



11th Nov 2002, 23:15


Alpine Flyer & Kinsman: Thanks for your support. AF: I think we'll be the last generation to enjoy high speed atmospheric public transport. Maybe we'll see extra-atmospheric vehicles one day, but I fear that'll be a generation or two away..... and maybe one day it will be truely appreciated what those people achived back in the 1960's. They got it right at the first attempt, and it still does exactly what it says on the tin some 3 decades later with almost no development at all....... those were the days.

Select Zone Five
12th Nov 2002, 08:57
I arrived at LHR on Saturday just in time to see, hear and feel Concorde takeoff...It's a truly amazing aircraft and as NW1 points out, a "freak chain of events" was found to be the cause of the accident and this is true of many incidents in life.

I still get goose bumps from watching the takeoff. I hope she continues to fly a long way into the future and that I will one day be able to afford a ride! :)