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The BBC's Jonathan Charles
"Technical details are proving complex"
 real 56k

The BBC's Simon Montague
"BA says its Concordes are safe to fly"
 real 56k

Passenger Jostein Svensen
"Quite a few passengers were very, very nervous"
 real 28k

Monday, 31 July, 2000, 18:05 GMT 19:05 UK
Concorde talks amid safety scares
BA Concorde at Gander in Newfoundland
Passengers disembark from Concorde in Newfoundland
British and French flight experts have been meeting in Paris to review Concorde safety measures following a series of alerts affecting the jet since last Tuesday's disaster.

The French police have now revised downwards by one to 113 the number of people killed when the Air France Concorde crashed near Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport.

Weekend scares
Sunday evening - "Fuel-like smell" prompts New York-bound flight to divert to Newfoundland

Sunday morning - Concorde grounded at Heathrow due to refuelling problems

Saturday evening - loud bang heard as flight lands at Heathrow
Air France's entire supersonic fleet was grounded after the disaster and will not fly again until the French transport minister is convinced that safety can be guaranteed.

The British Airways Concordes are still flying though BA is monitoring the situation on a daily basis.

Our correspondent says the new review is not only designed to improve Concorde's safety but also to boost public confidence in the aircraft.

French crash investigators have been meeting separately but have so far failed to reach a conclusion about the cause of Tuesday's tragedy. The chief investigator said they had found nothing which gave cause for concern before the plane took off.

Earlier, the investigators said the crash appeared to have been caused by a massive fuel leak, and not by a failure of one of the engines.

Weekend alerts

On Sunday evening, BA Concorde Flight 003 bound for New York was diverted to Gander in Newfoundland in Canada after passengers reported a smell of fuel at the back of the cabin.

Among the passengers were entertainers Tony Bennett and George Benson.


Earlier on the same day, 51 passengers on the 1030 BST flight from Heathrow to New York were transferred to a standby aircraft because of a refuelling problem, which BA described as "minor".

It has also emerged that late on Saturday, a BA Concorde flight from New York was met by emergency services on the ground at Heathrow, after the pilot was alerted to a large bang inside one of the engines.

A mixture of fuel and air in the engine was blamed for the noise, which the airline said was similar to a car engine backfiring and would not have been heard by the passengers.


A minor incident, but obviously we do not make any compromises on safety

BA spokeswoman
BA described the action taken for all three of its troubled Concordes as "routine safety procedure", but also confirmed that preliminary investigations into the smell on Flight 003 indicated it could have been fuel.

It said the plane, which left London's Heathrow airport at 1900 BST, had landed at Gander at about 2200 BST without incident.

A BA spokeswoman told BBC News Online that the airline was in constant contact with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and its French counterpart and was "assessing the situation very closely on a daily basis".

Punctured

Norwegian businessman Jostein Svendsen, who was on board, said passengers had been upset and nervous when told about the hitch, but added: "It wasn't full panic, as you may expect."

Fire fighters at the crash site
The latest scare comes days after tragedy in France
Mr Svendsen said passengers had first become aware of a problem when the aircraft had slowed down above the Atlantic, when they had still been a long way from New York.

On Sunday, France's Accident Investigation Bureau (BEA), which is heading the technical inquiry into the Paris crash, said one of the pieces of the jet found on the runway appeared to be part of the fuel tank.

The findings appear to support the theory that the fuel tank - rather than an engine, as previously thought - might have been punctured by a fragment of the Concorde's wheel after a tyre burst as the plane hurtled along the runway.

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