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Thursday, 7 June, 2001, 13:16 GMT 14:16 UK
New tyres give hope for Concorde
New Michelin Concorde tyres
The tyre has been tested in simulations and in flight
New tyres have been unveiled as part of a range of safety measures to get the supersonic jet Concorde back into the skies.

Manufacturer Michelin claims the tyres are harder to puncture and will satisfy those responsible for rebuilding the new safer Concorde.

The Paris crash cost 113 lives
The entire Concorde fleet has been grounded since the Air France crash in Paris in July 2000, which killed 113 people.

Investigators believe the crash happened when a piece of metal on the runway punctured the plane's tyre. It exploded, sending rubber debris hurtling against a fuel tank which ruptured, triggering a fire.

The new tyres were unveiled by manufacturer Michelin at a news conference in Paris on Thursday.

Flight tests

Michelin spokesman Pierre Desmarets said the tyre had passed the tests specified by The European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) - the body responsible for getting Concorde airborne again.

The tyres are designed to be more resistant to damage and to operate at Concorde's take-off speed of 400 km/h even when 40% deflated.

They have gone through tests designed to mimic the conditions of the Concorde crash last July.

Michelin said the tyres remained "fully functional" when punctured by a 30cm blade.

Damaged tyres were able to withstand take-off and landing, without losing pressure or disintegrating, said Michelin.

EADS spokesman Daniel Deviller said the company was happy with the results.

"When we look at the specification that we have developed for the tyre we had a very positive light to all the parts of the specification," he told the BBC.

Internal fuel tanks

Safety experts are also looking at ways to make Concorde's fuel tanks more fire resistant. Linings made of Kevlar - the material used to make bulletproof vests - have been put inside the fuel tanks to strengthen them.

These were fitted earlier this year and have been tested to see if they can survive heavy impacts.

BA Concorde
BA has been working on Concorde for several months
All the tests on Concorde should be completed later this summer.

Both Air France and British Airways - the only two companies that operate the plane - hope to resume their Concorde services in the autumn.

The return to service ultimately depends on the re-issue of a certificate of airworthiness by the Civil Aviation Authority and its French equivalent.

It is hoped the modifications will help the aircraft gain the certificate.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Tom Heap
"Concorde should be carrying passengers again by this autumn"
Chris Yates of Jane's Defence Weekly
"We're talking tyre quailty equivalent to that of racing cars"
The Concorde Crash

Return to the skies?

The investigation

The crash

INTERACTIVE GUIDE

TALKING POINT

FORUM

FROM THE ARCHIVE

AUDIO VIDEO
See also:

17 Apr 01 | Europe
13 May 01 | Europe
22 May 01 | UK
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