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Friday, 1 September, 2000, 00:48 GMT 01:48 UK
Concorde's final moments revealed
Wreckage
The July crash claimed the lives of 113 people
A preliminary report into the Concorde crash has revealed the final known words of the crew, seconds before the jet went down in a ball of flames.


Too late... no time

Pilot Christian Marty
The 76-page report from the French accident investigation branch, the BEA, also confirms previous theories that a burst tyre started the "catastrophic" chain of the events that led to the disaster in which 113 people died.

But the BEA say they cannot be sure whether tyre fragments pierced the plane's fuel tanks or entered its engines.

The crew's first warning that something had gone wrong came from the control tower at Charles de Gaulle airport.

'You have flames'

Shortly after take-off at 1643 local time (1443 GMT) on 25 July, the control tower told the cockpit: "You have flames. You have flames behind you."

Seven seconds after that message, the chief navigator confirmed: "Breakdown eng... breakdown engine two."

Air France Concorde
A fire broke out under the plane's left wing
"Cut engine two," he said four seconds later.

The supersonic jet tried to gain speed for an emergency landing, but pilot Christian Marty was heard to say: "Too late... no time."

As the crew apparently tried to steer the plane towards the nearby Le Bourget airport, the final words from the plane came from the co-pilot: "Negative, we're trying Le Bourg...".

Communication between the control tower and the plane was then lost.

At 1645, the control tower confirmed: "The Concorde has crashed."

All 109 passengers and crew, and four people on the ground, were killed when the New York-bound jet crashed into a hotel in Gonesse on the outskirts of Paris.

Metal strip

The BEA confirmed in its report that a burst tyre had triggered the chain of events that brought down the plane.


The crew had no way of knowing about the nature of the fire nor any means of fighting it

BEA report
"The 25 July accident shows that the destruction of a tyre, an event that we cannot say will not recur, had catastrophic consequences in a short period of time, preventing the crew from rectifying the situation," the BEA said.

The investigators also confirmed that a 40cm (16in) metal strip, probably from another plane, had been found on the runway.

Since the investigation began, there has been speculation that the metal strip had caused the tyre to explode.

BA Concorde
The 12 remaining Concordes have been grounded
However the report said that the sequence of damage and the links between the various events have not yet been fully established.

As a consequence of the events, the BEA said, "at least one fuel tank was ruptured in one or more places, resulting in a substantial fuel leak.

"The leaking fuel caught light and a very violent fire ensued throughout the duration of the flight. The fire broke out within a few seconds of the tyre blowout and thrust was lost in one, then two, engines.

"The crew had no way of knowing about the nature of the fire nor any means of fighting it."

Grounded

British and French air safety authorities suspended the plane's airworthiness certificates in August.

The two nations said the 12 remaining Concordes would remain grounded until the risk stemming from tyre blowouts could be addressed.

Experts from the BEA, the French Justice Ministry and aircraft manufacturers are now working on rebuilding the landing gear, engines and parts of the left wing in a hangar near Le Bourget.

A Franco-British expert group is due to hold a meeting in Paris on 7 September to try to reach a final conclusion on the crash.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's David Shukman
"Within 90 seconds of that tyre bursting the plane had crashed"
The BBC's Jeremy Cooke in Paris
"The crew tried desperately to save the supersonic jet and its passengers"
Aviation expert, Chris Yates
"I would hope that Concorde would fly again"
The Concorde Crash

Return to the skies?

The investigation

The crash

INTERACTIVE GUIDE

TALKING POINT

FORUM

FROM THE ARCHIVE

AUDIO VIDEO
See also:

18 Aug 00 | Europe
16 Aug 00 | Business
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