Go Back  PPRuNe Forums > Flight Deck Forums > Rumours & News
Reload this Page >

French Concorde crash

Rumours & News Reporting Points that may affect our jobs or lives as professional pilots. Also, items that may be of interest to professional pilots.

French Concorde crash

Old 6th Dec 2010, 15:41
  #41 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Wayne Manor
Posts: 1,517
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
People have said "airport should have swept runway better". Yes, but that wasn't a direct contributing cause in the intuitive sense of the above sequence of physical events.
From what I recall, due to the higher runway speeds of the type, it was SOP at many locations the type operated to, to perform runway sweeps to check for and clear any debris.

one of two daily runway sweeps for debris at Charles de Gaulle airport had been cancelled on the day of the crash; and a wheel spacer on the left main undercarriage had not been replaced during maintenance four days earlier. [Source: Aviation Week. Feb 2, 2010.]
Fine, if you want to say that it was not a mitigating fact. However, due to the higher runway speeds of the type, not only were tyres(tires) specific to the type but also it was SOP at many locations to perform runway sweeps prior to departure of the type. As such, the identification of such type specific actions expressly dictates predetermined actions specific to the type, which were not undertaken by the port authority. Thus it can be considered that the port authority responsible was directly negligent in the failure to detect and remove debris, which contributed to the damage resulting in total hull loss and fatality.

Further, the was the missing wheel spacer subject to the MEL of the operator or the manufacturer. IE is it anywhere stated in the maintenance manuals, or operational manuals for the carrier that a component part of the design of the aircraft not re-installed on the aircraft post maintenance, if not included in the MEL, may be released for service?

As such, if it is not expressly indicated that the aircraft may be released for operational revenue service with such a spacer missing, then the aircraft should not have been released for service. In which event it should not have been on the runway, overweight, underweight, hole in fuel tank or not, in operational service. Ergo, negligence on the part of the maintenance provider and on the part of the operator for having an aircraft in operational service that, subject to missing components should not have been.


It would be like blaming the police for Fred's broken jaw in a street fight because they weren't there at the time. Thousands of years of legal tradition says the person responsible for the broken jaw is the person who threw the punch.
This argument is a non sequitur.

If Fred had fallen down on an icy patch or tripped on a kerb, falling and smashing his face into the ground, prior to being punched, or the person who threw the punch punched him in the chest, or in fact the person that threw the punch was in fact a midget and could only reach Fred's knee caps, then by all respects the person that is deemed liable under the 'Court of PBL' is not in fact responsible for the damage/injury, but is in fact circumstantial to the damage incurred.

Then of course, there are thousands of years of legal 'tradition' which determines what are mitigating facts and which are not.

Edit to add: facetious tone not appropriately indicated in typeface.

Last edited by stuckgear; 6th Dec 2010 at 16:06.
stuckgear is offline  
Old 6th Dec 2010, 15:44
  #42 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Berkshire, UK
Age: 79
Posts: 8,268
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
<<also it was SOP at many locations to perform runway sweeps prior to departure of the type.>>

I shared my career with Concorde but in all those years I do not recall a runway "sweep" (whatever that is) at Heathrow prior to a departure.
HEATHROW DIRECTOR is offline  
Old 6th Dec 2010, 15:49
  #43 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Wayne Manor
Posts: 1,517
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
HD, as i said, i seem to recall and cannot verify the fact of the statement, hence the statement as to i seem to recall. I do seem to recall however, that some locations in the US, which the aircraft operated to did in fact perform a sweep of the runway prior to the departure/arrival of the type (and i don't mean a street cleaner going out with a broom and brush, or a motorized vehicle physically sweeping the runway) but the inhabitants of a ground vehicle passing over the runway looking for any debris and removing it.

I seem to recall at LHR ground vehicles performing visual inspections of the runway from time to time.
stuckgear is offline  
Old 6th Dec 2010, 15:50
  #44 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: uk
Posts: 857
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by bearfoil
Do the French have that departed a view of "Criminal" Responsibility? Here, it requires a very complete proof of Intent to do Harm.
IANAL, but I think on this side of the pond "Manslaughter" (of the involuntary type if in the UK) is precisely what you imply - i.e. criminal responsibility for a death without intent to harm. French position in this case seems pretty similar to what I understand of English law.

Having just looked it up, the wikipedia page on manslaughter (Manslaughter - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) would appear to agree with me (not that that means anything). Interestingly it suggests that you do have the same legal concept in the US, to quote:

In the United States, misdemeanour manslaughter is a lesser version of felony murder, and covers a person who causes the death of another while committing a misdemeanour that is, a violation of law which doesn't rise to the level of a felony. This may automatically lead to a conviction for the homicide, if the misdemeanor involved a law designed to protect human life. Many violations of safety laws are infractions, which means a person can be convicted regardless of Mens rea.
So it looks like the French aren't so much different after all.
infrequentflyer789 is offline  
Old 6th Dec 2010, 15:58
  #45 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Posts: 151
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We heard at the time of the accident that the part from the Continental aircraft was not approved. Can anyone verify this?
Saint-Ex is offline  
Old 6th Dec 2010, 15:58
  #46 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: France
Posts: 2,315
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by NamibFox
So should we ignore the fact that in the previous 24 years of Concorde flights prior to July 2000 there were 65 burst tyre incidents of which 6 events led to the perforation of fuel tanks? Even if you dispute these numbers surely even one previous fuel tank breach would be one too many?
Tyre bursts were/are not unique to Concorde, and they can result and have resulted in structural damage on other types. The main difference was the frequency.
Certification testing had shown, that an exploding tyre would at the most result in fuel leaks of a few litres/sec.
The severity of some of the earliest incidents (where the wheels themselves, and the water deflectors, did most of the damage) WAS addressed by modifications.

And it was not ignored ... three of the "accused" were from EADS (as the legacy manufacturer) and the DGAC (French CAA).
They could be accused of "errors of judgment", in not being more "pro-active" (the NZG tyres were available well before 2000), the same as Continental can be accused of "professional incompetence" at several levels.

However, I agree that a ten-year criminal trial turned the whole thing into a bitter farce, without contributing anything to aviation safety.

CJ

PS I'm not French, even if I live there.
ChristiaanJ is offline  
Old 6th Dec 2010, 15:59
  #47 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: UK
Posts: 117
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
More to come..........

Continental's response suggests that there is much more to come on this issue. I find it extremely difficult to believe that if there had been a fire in one of the engines prior to take off nobody in the tower or on the ground described it accurately immediately after the accident. Furthermore engine fires do not rupture fuel tanks as clearly happened on this occasion.

The MOST likely cause was the metal left on the runway but I suppose as with so many of these incidents we will never ever really know with any certainty if there were other contributory factors .

The fines are miniscule and the aircraft flies no more - sadly as it was perfectly capable of flying for many more years - and all we can do is sympathise with all those who tragically lost their loved ones as the result of the crash. There but for the grace of God go...................
interpreter is offline  
Old 6th Dec 2010, 15:59
  #48 (permalink)  
bearfoil
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Mea Culpa, non compos mentis.

Did the (CAL) Mech's repair fall withing the regs? I thought it did, or did the French Court exclude exculpatory pleading? The lack of required (spacer) equipment strikes me as an offsetting plead, and more direct in the accident's procuring cause, given the lengthy history of Concorde's Achilles "Leg"? "Duty of Care"? When there is a choice twixt causes, there is your Appeal.

bear
 
Old 6th Dec 2010, 16:00
  #49 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Wayne Manor
Posts: 1,517
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
the same as Continental can be accused of "professional incompetence" at several levels.
well that alone leaves a significant portion of many airlines around the globe up the proverbial creek !
stuckgear is offline  
Old 6th Dec 2010, 16:08
  #50 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Wayne Manor
Posts: 1,517
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Did the (CAL) Mech's repair fall withing the regs?
Bear, interesting point. Perhaps CAL's FSDO could be liable for a failure in oversight !


edit to add: Gallic shrug not duly represented by typeface.
stuckgear is offline  
Old 6th Dec 2010, 16:18
  #51 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Manchester
Age: 45
Posts: 615
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
There maybe a level of actus rea in respect to this, in that it was a bit of a gash repair job, but I didn't think there was any level of mens rea.

How Air France are escaping any blame in this is beyond me.

Oh, I forgot where this incident took place.

The whole incident is a little like saying if I litter accidently, and a car, that is carrying too many people happens to skid on it, that was being driven by a really poor driver then I am to blame and hence guilty of manslaughter.

I don't think any sane judicial system on the planet would see it that way, oh I forgot where this courtcase occurred.

Just out of interest, was there ever a case brought before court when that Shorts 360 had it's roof chopped off and a poor man lost his life due to ATC incompetence?
Ex Cargo Clown is offline  
Old 6th Dec 2010, 16:24
  #52 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: United Kingdom
Age: 62
Posts: 212
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
ChristiaanJ

As you say tyre bursts are not uncommon right across all types operational but to say a particular burst was of unprecedented force just doesn't make sense to me.

Unprecedented from what I wonder? Perhaps he means from the last burst that occurred that may just luckily have not caused a conflagration or the loss of the aircraft!

This said, I don't believe that any of the three French gentlemen should have been tried either. This accident resulted from a number of causes of which the tyre burst incident was the precursor but not the only one.

I must say that I am apt to agree with Mr Learmount's comments when he wrote...

There is no obligation under French law to launch a criminal prosecution following an aviation accident. An accident could be presumed to be just that: an unintended, unforseen occurrence.

This compulsion to prosecute following aviation accidents in France seems to be embedded in the way the establishment works in the country, but it's about time somebody in authority questioned the procedure. The trouble is that it seems to be considered sacrilege to criticise or interfere with the French judicial system. The judiciary's independence is sacred to the extent that they can write their own rules. So that's what they do.

I reported an encounter with a senior French lawyer who specialises in aviation, and she gave me a cryptic insight into why the French judiciary act as they do. I quote briefly from that report: "The French judiciary are not obliged to prosecute following accidents, any more than the British judiciary are, but in France they always choose to go for prosecution, while in the UK they hardly ever do."

Let's look at what this Pontoise court has to do if it is to convict any of the five accused of manslaughter.

For the charge against the Aerospatiale engineers/designers to stand, the prosecution has to be able to prove that Concorde was designed negligently, that the design's vulnerability to wing fuel tank damage was known, and it could have been forseen that there was a risk that this vulnerability could lead to the loss of the aircraft so as to cause harm to those on board.

That will be difficult to prove.

The Continental Airlines mechanics are alleged to have departed from proper engineering procedures when they prepared a titanium strip to carry out a repair to the DC-10 that took off from the same runway shortly before Concorde began its take-off roll, and that the strip detached from the aircraft during the roll. The accident investigators' report says the probable cause of the accident is that the titanium strip on the runway cut one of the Concorde's tyres in such a way that a large chunk of the exploding tyre pierced the wing skin and released a stream of fuel that caught fire, causing the crash.

It may be that the alleged departure from standard engineering procedures could be established, but whether a connection between the engineering procedure and the accident can be proven is not certain. The technical investigation does not deal in legal proof, its purpose is to establish a "probable cause" for an accident purely so that future events of the same type can be prevented. A probable cause is not a proof. The court may be unable to prove the connection.

This court case is pointless. Concorde itself will never fly again, and in the unlikely event that any new technical facts emerge that had not already been examined by the accident investigators, they are unlikely to provide lessons that are transferable to in-service types because so much about Concorde's design is unique. If the argument is that the prosecution is being pursued "pour encourager les autres", or to see justice served by jailing some individuals on the grounds they are guilty of manslaughter through criminal negligence, which group of people will welcome this judicial revenge against five individuals? There has been no baying for blood over this accident, merely sadness.

In previous cases where a prosecution was mounted following air accidents in France, the normal outcome has been the acquittal of all involved. On the rare occasion that a person has been found guilty, the sentence has been suspended.

What makes the Concorde case particularly distasteful is how much time and money have been wasted on preparing it for court over the nine years since the accident, and how much more is going to be wasted in court during the next four months. Add to that the harm and delay always imposed on the technical investigation by the French judiciary's meddling which, in this case, drove the UK Air Accident Investigation Branch - a partner in the investigation - to distraction while they were trying to get on with the job.

The French judiciary in this case are acting like a peculiar sect with strange beliefs pursuing an eccentric ritual that has no relevance to anyone except the participants.
As usual, this case will be won or lost on legal technicalities. It is certainly not about aviation, it is more about legal egos, if my French lawyer friend is to be believed. And about lining their pockets.
Cacophonix is offline  
Old 6th Dec 2010, 16:28
  #53 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: France
Posts: 2,315
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by bearfoil
Did the (CAL) Mech's repair fall withing the regs?
Replacing a wear strip on a cowling with titanium ??
Come on, bearfoil, you can't be that naive.

Not to mention the utter incompetence of the mechanic.
Ever tried to drill in titanium?
After wearing out the first drill bit, he should have recognised something was not quite right.
Instead of which, he drilled a few more holes, here, there and everywhere, and just fitted it anyway.

Bad luck, in being found out in such a spectacular way....

CJ
ChristiaanJ is offline  
Old 6th Dec 2010, 16:34
  #54 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: SA
Posts: 33
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Shall I speculate on how this action by the French courts will affect the search for AF447? It seems that, with this one ruling, a lot of people who would normally be helping with an open and honest investigation of AF447, would now be better off if that plane is never found.

If given the choice between 'benefiting aviation safety' or 'not spending 20 years in jail', even the most ardent safety guy would prefer to be home with his wife and kids.
Airmotive is offline  
Old 6th Dec 2010, 16:42
  #55 (permalink)  

Aviator Extraordinaire
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma USA
Age: 76
Posts: 2,394
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Well as no one has stated the obvious, I will.

A burst tire, no matter how unprecedented, should not cause a modern jet airliner to crash due to the damage caused by the bursting tire. No matter what caused the tire to fail.

And even more damning is that this was not the first time this had happened, did not the same type of incident happen to a BA Concorde, which caused BA to modify the bottom of the BA Concordes fuel tanks?

This is CYA at a national level.
con-pilot is offline  
Old 6th Dec 2010, 16:45
  #56 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: United Kingdom
Age: 62
Posts: 212
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Well as no one has stated the obvious, I will.
Con thanks for stating bluntly what I was skating around!
Cacophonix is offline  
Old 6th Dec 2010, 16:46
  #57 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Cardiff UK
Age: 69
Posts: 118
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
It seems to me that many on this thread have little or no knowledge of the French legal system, and I include myself in that statement. Making references to what would happen in the USA or UK is therefore not relevant. I have had this debate about different legal juristrictions with Bearfoil before(Qantas engine failure). As SLF I have noticed a tendency to criticize people who make "uneducated" comments as being MS pilots. Well in this case I think it's fair to say that many posters are acting as armchair lawyers.
Of course everyone is entitled to their view on the technical causes of the Concorde accident but to suggest that a court in reaching a different view to yours is corrupt /incompetent etc is simply laughable.
Regards
Nick
Nick Thomas is offline  
Old 6th Dec 2010, 16:49
  #58 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Europe
Posts: 12
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Ermmmm

Yet again the engineer has been witch hunted and given a suspended jail term ?

I'm sure he has been feeling good since the allegations
Hi Lok is offline  
Old 6th Dec 2010, 16:54
  #59 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: United Kingdom
Age: 62
Posts: 212
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I include myself in that statement. Making references to what would happen in the USA or UK is therefore not relevant
As this case involves people and institutions from the US, UK and France it is highly appropriate for all these legal systems to be considered and if comparisons are odious then so be it.

You might be surprised by how many people who comment here do have a legal backgound. However, I do agree a simplistic kneejerk reaction to a system be it legal or otherwise just because it is French is inappropriate.
Cacophonix is offline  
Old 6th Dec 2010, 16:58
  #60 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: France
Posts: 2,315
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by NamibFox
ChristiaanJ
As you say tyre bursts are not uncommon right across all types operational but to say a particular burst was of unprecedented force just doesn't make sense to me.
Unprecedented from what I wonder?
Unprecedented from all the 65 previous occasions you mention, and also unprecedented from all the certification tests - but then those were all based on the tyre bursting from "known" effects, such as under-inflation, overheating from excessive braking, etc. etc.
Somehow the tyre being ripped apart by a large piece of knife-like FOD was never considered.
Perhaps he means from the last burst that occurred that may just luckily have not caused a conflagration or the loss of the aircraft! [...]
This accident resulted from a number of causes of which the tyre burst incident was the precursor but not the only one.
Quite.
I suppose most people here are aware of the sequence...
Not only a large leak (possibly caused by 'oil-canning' which probably would not have occurred either if the tanks hadn't been so close to being full, as was normal), but the leak was ignited.
The exact cause may be debatable (arcing in the wheel well sounding the most probable, rather than "blow-back" from the reheat), but it happened.

Without that happening, it would have simply been a very messy incident.
I must say that I am apt to agree with Mr Learmount's comments when he wrote...
A very measured comment. And yes, I'm apt to agree too.

CJ
ChristiaanJ is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

Copyright © 2024 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.