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The BBC's George Eykyn
"Many will wonder whether today Concorde's mighty engines have roared their last"
 real 56k

Thursday, 21 September, 2000, 18:22 GMT 19:22 UK
Concorde lands safely
Air France staff greet Concorde in Paris
Air France staff cheer as the Concorde lands
An Air France Concorde has landed safely in Paris after what may be the plane's last ever trans-Atlantic flight.

The trip to Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport from New York was the first by an Air France Concorde since the July crash in which 113 people died on the outskirts of Paris.

No passengers were allowed on board, under the terms of special permission granted by aviation authorities. They withdrew the supersonic jet's airworthiness certificate in August.

Airport staff greeted the Concorde with a banner saying "Concorde - I love you".

Air France Concorde
France and the UK have grounded their Concorde fleets

A BBC correspondent says that ongoing doubts over whether safety modifications can effectively be made to the ageing plane have put its future in jeopardy.

Experts believe any modifications to the jet's structure may prove too expensive, costing millions of dollars.

Emotional flight

"It's moving, exceptional. I hope the Concorde flights resume, but we're all very sad because everything is uncertain," said Air France pilot Alain Ravani.


When the Concorde flies over Gonesse again, of course I will have that terrible accident in my heart

Hotel owner Patrick Tesse

The Paris crash is believed to have been caused when a tyre burst after striking a 16-inch strip of metal lying on the runway, sending debris into the aircraft's fuel tanks and causing a disastrous fire.

The plane flew for barely a minute before plunging into a small hotel near the small town of Gonesse, killing all 109 people on board and four people on the ground.

Maintenance needed

One of Air France's five Concordes had been left standing on the tarmac in New York after the crash, and the company was eager to bring it back to Paris for checks by specialist maintenance units.

The French news agency AFP reported that the plane did not fly over Gonesse, following a request from the town's mayor, Jean-Pierre Blazy, that it avoid an overflight.

"When the Concorde flies over Gonesse again, of course I will have that terrible accident in my heart," said Patrick Tesse, the owner of a hotel narrowly missed by the ill-fated plane in July.

Earlier this month, French Transport Minister Jean-Claude Gayssot spoke of his hopes that Concorde would return to the skies.

But the minister has also said that will only happen once appropriate safety measure have been put in place.

British Airways, the other airline with a Concorde fleet, kept its planes flying until shortly before the jets' airworthiness certificate was withdrawn in mid-August.

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See also:

06 Sep 00 | Europe
Concorde 'will fly again'
04 Sep 00 | Europe
US plane linked to Concorde crash
01 Sep 00 | Europe
Questions over Concorde runway
01 Sep 00 | Europe
Concorde's future in doubt
10 Aug 00 | Europe
Metal strip 'burst' Concorde tyre
03 Aug 00 | Europe
Concorde flight ban remains
09 Aug 00 | Sci/Tech
Concorde tests found 'engine risks'
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