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The BBC's Simon Montague
"BA is losing millions of pounds"
 real 56k

Chris Yates, aviation editor, Jane's Defence Weekly
"It is a superb aircraft"
 real 56k

Friday, 5 January, 2001, 17:37 GMT
Concorde fuel tanks 'ruptured six times'
Concorde in flames
No-one survived the Air France Concorde crash
Air accident investigators in France have confirmed that fuel tanks on Concorde airliners had been ruptured by bursting tyres on six separate occasions before last July's crash outside Paris.

The French Accident Investigation Bureau (BEA) said there had been 57 cases of Concorde tyres bursting on the runway since the plane was put into service in 1976.

The investigators had already concluded that the Paris tragedy happened when a metal strip on the runway burst a tyre on the Air France Concorde, sending debris flying into a fuel tank, which ruptured and caught fire.

All 109 passengers and crew died when the Concorde crashed in flames minutes later. Four people on the ground also died.

Debris

The French investigation bureau, in its latest report on the tragedy, now says that virtually identical incidents occurred on six previous occasions - but none resulted in the leaking fuel catching fire.

It says that, of the 57 tyre-bursts, 30 had happened to the Air France fleet and 27 to British Airways Concordes.

No fewer than 12 of the incidents resulted in structural damage to the wings and/or fuel tanks, including the six cases when the tanks were actually ruptured.

All Concordes have been grounded while modification work is carried out to reinforce the linings of their fuel tanks.

Doomed

UK officials have said they believe Concordes could be flying again by March, once the modifications are carried out.

The doomed 100 Concorde passengers who died in the Parish crash were German tourists on their way to start a luxury cruise in the US.

The piece of metal which sparked the tragedy is believed to have come from a plane belonging to US-based Continental Airline.

The airline has said that one of its DC-10 aircrafts was missing a metal piece similar to the one found on the runway at Charles de Gaulle airport.

The DC-10 had passed through the airport on 25 July, shortly before the New York-bound Concorde took off.

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See also:

09 Aug 00 | Sci/Tech
Concorde tests found 'engine risks'
15 Dec 00 | UK
Concorde 'ready to fly'
01 Sep 00 | Europe
Questions over Concorde runway
04 Sep 00 | Europe
US plane linked to Concorde crash
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