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Tuesday, 17 July, 2001, 17:34 GMT 18:34 UK
Concorde completes supersonic test
Concorde touched down at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire
Concorde touched down at RAF Brize Norton
Concorde has successfully completed its first supersonic test flight since it was grounded a year ago following a Paris crash in which 113 people died.

The aircraft landed at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire at 1740BST after a three hour 20 minute flight over the Atlantic

Captain Mike Bannister said the flight had been "absolutely fantastic" and the aircraft had "performed brilliantly".

He said there would now be another verification flight and he was "getting very confident" of Concorde getting back into service.

The plane took off from Heathrow airport, London at 1420BST.

Air France Concorde AP
The Paris crash claimed 113 lives
During the flight, it reached 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 were testing how the aircraft responded to the safety modifications it has undergone.

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 the 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.


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

Test flight details
Duration 3 hours 20 minutes
Flew from Heathrow over Bristol, continued west of Ireland and south west of Iceland, returning to RAF Brize Norton
Top speed 1,300mph - twice speed of sound
Altitude up to 60,000 feet
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.

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

The BBC's Robert Hall
"Alpha Foxtrot let the world know she was back in her element"
The BBC's Tom Symonds
"For more than financial reasons, BA wanted to get the plane back in the air"
Former Concorde pilot David Leney
"So much work has been done, everybody's helped enormously to get her into the air"

Return to the skies?

The investigation

The crash





See also:

17 Jul 01 | Business
Concorde flies the BA flag
13 May 01 | Europe
Relatives accept Concorde cash
17 Jul 01 | Talking Point
Can Concorde regain its status?
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