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Tuesday, 17 July, 2001, 12:02 GMT 13:02 UK
Concorde ready for test flight
Concorde PA
Concorde will reach a top speed of 1,350mph
The pilot and aircrew of a British Airways Concorde are preparing to make the first test flight since the fleet was grounded following a crash in Paris that killed 113 people.

The supersonic aircraft will take off from Heathrow airport, London, at around 1400 BST, and will be flown by BA's Concorde chief pilot Captain Mike Bannister.

Air France Concorde AP
The Paris crash claimed 113 lives
The plane will fly over the Atlantic for approximately three hours and 20 minutes before returning to RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

During the flight, it is expected to reach its top speed of 1,350mph - around twice the speed of sound.

The Concorde fleet was grounded after the Air France tragedy near Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris in July last year, which killed 109 passengers and crew, and four people on the ground.

Safety measures

British Airways and Civil Aviation Authority staff on board the test flight will carry out a number of tests following modifications to Concorde's fuel tanks and undercarriage.

The supersonic plane's fuel tanks have been lined with Kevlar to prevent a repeat of last year's crash in France.

The liner is made of a rubber compound successfully used in military helicopters and Formula One cars.

A burst tyre caused last year's crash, flinging debris at a fuel tank and starting a catastrophic fire.

The result of any test flight will be submitted to the Civil Aviation Authority and its French equivalent, with the aim of winning back certificates of air-worthiness suspended in the wake of the Paris crash.

Compensation

The BA fleet has undergone a 17m safety overhaul since the crash and the airline hopes to resume Concorde's passenger service in September.

Air France, which has conducted Concorde test flights at subsonic speeds, hopes to fly again by autumn, but said the timing is up to civil aviation authorities.

The French airline is paying compensation to relatives of the German victims of the Paris Concorde crash.

About 40% of the payments have already been made, the rest should come through in the next few days.

Attorneys have refused to release details of the settlement, but news reports in France and Germany have said the total compensation amounted to roughly $100m.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Robert Hall
"There are still hopes that limited commercial flights can start before the autumn"
Aviation safety expert Chris Yates
"British Airways suggests it may have Concorde back in service by late September"
Travel agent Colin Mitchell
"The aircraft flew for thirty-one years without any major incident"
Captain Jock Lowe, Former Concorde pilot,
and John Stewart, Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise

Return to the skies?

The investigation

The crash

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See also:

13 May 01 | Europe
Relatives accept Concorde cash
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