Concorde Crashes Near Paris

photo: bistro, l'amuse bouche

Closed for August, or just closed for the day?

Disaster Due To Multiple Causes

Paris:- Sunday, 30. July 2000:- Every day around the world thousands of aircraft take off and land without incident. Takeoffs and landing are the critical times for aircraft flights, and every normal flight has one of each of these operations.

Last Tuesday, Air France's Concorde flight 4590 did not complete its takeoff successfully, which condemned it to fail its landing completely.

Given the start signal by air controllers at Paris' Charles-de-Gaulle airport at Roissy at 16:40, the Concorde with its crew of nine and 100 passengers, and four people on the ground were killed when the aircraft fell out of the sky at 16:43.

It was the first crash involving a Concorde, which was test-flown for the first time in 1969. The aircraft went into commercial service in 1973 and is still operated by Air France and British Airways.

Possible Causes of the Crash

Tonight on France-2 TV-news, the head of France's 'BEA' civil aviation investigation service, advanced a possible scenario of events that led to the crash of the Concorde.

On takeoff, before the plane left the runway, two tires out of the four comprising the left-side landing gear, came apart.

The hypothesis is that the exploding tires, wheels, or partsphoto: cafe du chateau, open of the landing gear, projected a piece of something which pierced the fuel tank in the left wing, causing the kerosene fuel to escape.

The Café du Château, open last Wednesday, but closed for August?

At nearly the same time, the pilot detected and reported a 'problem' with the left inboard motor number two. One of the flight recorders also has indicated that the left outboard motor number one was operating irregularly.

As the tower alerted the pilot to a jet of flame coming from the left wing, the aircraft reached its no-stop speed and took off.

But, fully loaded and tanked, with two engines on one side functioning poorly or not at all, the aircraft could not gain speed or climb.

Either the pilots tried to steer towards an emergency landing at Le Bourget, or the two right-wing motors forced the aircraft in this direction. Either way, the airspeed was too low to control the aircraft.

The Aircraft

This particular Concorde, lettercoded 'BTSC,' was completely rebuilt in September of 1999. Not a mere overhaul, the entire core piece of the airplane was replaced. Since it began flying 20 years ago it has recorded 12,000 hours of flight time.

On Friday, 21. July the plane received a routine overhaul. Just before Tuesday's scheduled takeoff, the pilot asked for the replacement of a thrust-reversal pump. This repair caused a 30 minute delay in takeoff, but is thought to have had no effect on later events.

As old as the flying Concordes are, they are still technical marvels, capable of flying at a speed of Mach-2.

While operating at a cruising altitude of 18,000 metres where the air temperature is -55 C, thephoto: pompidou, ford 021C car friction caused by airplane's speed heats the Concorde's aluminum-alloy surface to 120 C - which causes the plane to stretch 20 centimetres.

Modern design at the Pompidou Centre - open all summer.

The Concorde weighs 185 tons when it is fully tanked with 90 tons of kerosene. Its four Rolls Royce-Snecma 0lympus 593 turbojets propel the aircraft at nearly 600 metres per second.

For each hour of flight, Concordes typically receive 14 to 18 hours of maintenance, which is about 15 times more than necessary for an Airbus.

Foreseen to carry out 6700 flights each, their life has been extended to 8500 flights. Each of Air France's Concordes has been scheduled for the complete rebuild like the Concorde 'BTSC' which takes nine months. Air France wants to extend their commercial life to 2020.

The Passengers

Air France's Concorde flight 4590 was chartered by a German tour operator as part of a 15-day voyage. Flown from Frankfurt, the passengers boarded the Concorde at Charles-de-Gaulle airport for its flight to New York.

There, they were to embark on the luxury passenger ship 'MS Deutschland' for a cruise down the coast of the United States, with stops in Port Canaveral and then going on to Nassau, Havana, and Mexico, before going through the Panama Canal, to complete the voyage at Manta in Ecuador.

Ninety-six of the passengers were German nationals, two were Danish and there was one Austrian and one American on board the fatal Concorde flight.

The Crash Site

The Concorde crashed practically on top of the Hotel Hôtelissimo, beside the National 17 higway just to the northeast of the town of Gonesse. This is about four kilometres from the end of the runway at the airport.

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