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Friday, 11 August, 2000, 12:58 GMT 13:58 UK
French Concordes stay grounded
Air France Concorde, on fire during take-off
The Air France Concorde was on fire during take-off
Air France Concordes are to remain grounded following last month's crash outside Paris.

The French Transport Ministry said uncertainties still remained about the exact sequence of events leading to the disaster, in which 113 people died.

"In these conditions, the ministry... maintains the suspension of Concorde flights," a statement said, following a meeting of aviation experts.

On Thursday, the French Accident Investigation Bureau (BEA) said a 40cm strip of metal lying on the runway where the aircraft took off was probably responsible for the crash on 25 July.

It said that the most likely scenario was that the metal strip punctured one of the jet's tyres, and pieces of the tyre pierced the fuel tank.

Friday's ministry statement said: "Even if the origin of the destruction of the tyre seems to have been outlined, some uncertainties remain about the chronology of the events and the links between them, as well as about some particular and specific elements such as the source and the importance of the fire."

The supersonic aircraft crashed into a hotel in the town of Gonesse shortly afterwards killing all 109 people on board and four on the ground.

Air France's five remaining jets have been grounded since then, although British Airways resumed its Concorde flights the day after the crash.

The ministry's statement said Transport Minister Jean-Claude Gayssot hoped to liaise with UK transport officials over taking safety measures.

It did not say what kind of measures were envisaged.

The Mayor of Gonesse, Jean-Pierre Blazy, praised the decision to keep the ban, saying new safety procedures should be put in place before the Concorde is allowed to fly again.

Investigators have disclosed no details about the metal strip which is thought to have caused the tragedy, apart from its length.

Originally they thought it was a stray piece on the runway, but a BEA spokeswoman said on Thursday that although it "probably" did not come off the doomed jet, experts were still not sure.

The BEA's preliminary report on the crash is due at the end of August.

At Friday's meeting at the Transport Ministry the evidence gathered so far was reviewed by representatives of the BEA, the French civil aviation authority, Air France, the airports authority, and the commission of inquiry into the disaster.

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See also:

04 Aug 00 | Europe
Fresh clue to Concorde crash
03 Aug 00 | Europe
Concorde flight ban remains
09 Aug 00 | Sci/Tech
Concorde tests found 'engine risks'
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