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Mike Bell, CAA
"The action to ground a fleet of aircraft without knowledge is totally unprecedented"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 16 August, 2000, 14:39 GMT 15:39 UK
Safety body defends delayed decision
Concorde
Grounded: It could be months before Concorde flies
The Civil Aviation Authority has been defending its decision not to ground British Concordes in the immediate aftermath of a supersonic jet crash in Paris last month.

The air safety regulator said that despite a decision by Air France after the crash to stop its fleet of Concordes from flying there had been "no initial reason" to ground the aircraft.


I would be perfectly happy to fly on Concorde myself

Mike Bell, CAA

Airworthiness certificates for the plane were suspended on Wednesday after air accident investigators revealed the crash, which killed 113 people, was caused by a burst tyre.

The supersonic aircraft will not be cleared to fly again until modifications are made to the plane's tyres, which could take months.

Mike Bell of the CAA told BBC Radio 4's The World at One: "You should not ground a fleet of aircraft on the basis of a single accident."

He added: "Had we chosen to ground Concorde at that time we would have been severely criticised for doing so in the absence of any evidence.

"With hindsight...the French will probably say their decision was justified. From our point of view there was no technical reason.

"The action to ground a fleet of aircraft without knowledge is totally unprecedented."

Mr Bell gave Concorde a personal endorsement.

He said: "I would be perfectly happy to fly on Concorde myself."

Sir Malcolm Field, chairman of the CAA, said the decision to revoke the airworthiness certificate was made because new information about the cause of the crash had come to light.

'Responsible actions'

He said that before the Paris crash it was not considered possible that a tyre burst could cause a fuel tank rupture.

"That's the reason why we are acting so swiftly now we have found out about this event.

"We have acted in a responsible, prudent way.

"If we had grounded the British Concordes on the day after the crash, I could not have stood up and told you why."


There was no justification to revoke its airworthiness certificate straightaway

Sir Malcolm Field, CAA

Sir Malcolm denied the decision to allow Concorde to fly again within 24 hours of the Paris crash had been taken in ignorance.

"We looked very carefully at what happened as much as we could at the time of the accident and reached a conclusion there was no justification to revoke its air worthiness certificate straightaway.

"What was important was the investigative team was put in straightaway to report as quickly as they could," he said.

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See also:

16 Aug 00 | Europe
Concorde grounded 'for months'
16 Aug 00 | Business
Concorde blow to BA
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