View Full Version : Official Report on Concorde Cited

17th Jan 2002, 02:46
Official Report on Concorde Cited

<a href="http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20020116/ts/france_concorde.html" target="_blank">http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20020116/ts/france_concorde.html</a>

By PAMELA SAMPSON, Associated Press Writer

PARIS (AP) - An official French report released Wednesday said one factor in the crash of an Air France Concorde jet was maintenance that "did not conform to the regulations'' at Continental Airlines, whose DC-10 shed a piece of stray metal on the runway.

The report by French investigators suggested that the Federal Aviation Administration audit Continental's maintenance operations.

Continental rejected the allegations, called an audit unnecessary and blamed the "inherently unsafe design'' of the supersonic Concorde for the July 25, 2000 crash outside Paris that killed 113 people.

The report confirmed a long-held theory that the Concorde's tire was punctured during takeoff by a piece of metal on the runway from the DC-10, which took off five minutes before the Concorde at Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport.

Pieces of rubber from the punctured tires hit the fuel tanks, causing a fire and bringing down the Concorde, the report said.

"The loss of the metallic piece by the DC-10 of Continental Airlines had been identified as resulting from maintenance operations that did not conform to the regulations,'' the report said.

Houston-based Continental rejected the allegation, saying it has not been able to confirm that the piece of metal, known as a wear strip, came from its airliner. It said the strip on its aircraft was installed according to procedures in the manufacturer's manual. The manufacturer was General Electric Co.

"We disagree strongly with the findings in their report. We deny responsibility for the accident,'' said spokesman Nick Britton in Continental's London office.

"Even if it did come from our aircraft, the wear strip is not the root cause of the accident. That was the inherently unsafe design of the Concorde, which is vulnerable to catastrophic damage in tire bursts,'' Britton said.

Britton said the wear strip was installed on June 11, 2000 by a contractor, Israel Aircraft Industries, under Continental supervision. It was later discovered missing, so it was replaced July 9, 2000 by a Continental mechanic in Houston.

"Once we discovered the wear strip was missing ... we introduced supplemental procedures to ensure wear strip installation was secure in the future,'' Britton said.

The 400-page report by France's Accident Investigation Bureau, known by its French initials BEA, said Air France also showed deficiencies in maintenance, but said those deficiencies did not contribute to the crash.

A legal investigation aimed at determining responsibility is still under way.

Air France said that its faults cited in the report have been corrected.

"Although they didn't contribute to the accident, the faults pointed out in the BEA report have been the object of detailed analysis and appropriate corrective measures,'' the French airline said in a written statement.

Concordes in the fleets of Air France and British Airways - the only two carriers to fly the supersonic jet - were grounded after the accident as changes were made to its design.

Engineers say those changes have now made the Concorde safer.

It has been fitted with fuel-tank liners of bulletproof Kevlar, a flameproof reinforced undercarriage and newly designed, extra-resistant radial tires.

The new tires, designed by French firm Michelin, passed rigorous tests, including one that revved the wheel faster than 250 mph - the Concorde's speed at takeoff - and stabbed it with a titanium blade.

The Concorde's flight path also has been changed to avoid the town of Gonesse, where the crash occurred.