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Monday, 22 October, 2001, 23:35 GMT 00:35 UK
Concorde completes transatlantic flight
Concorde takes off
Concorde's take off was delayed by fog
Concorde has returned safely to London after its first full transatlantic test flight since the Paris crash.

The landmark flight, which precedes proposed passenger flights next month, landed at New York's John F Kennedy Airport at 1440BST on Monday, 15 minutes behind schedule.

It arrived back at Heathrow Airport at 2110BST, according to British Airways (BA).

The supersonic jet's three and a half hour flight had been delayed by 40 minutes due to heavy fog over Heathrow Airport before take off.

Ninety two engineers and staff were on board the BA flight, monitoring operations and testing procedures.

BA and Air France hope the flight will give the all clear for passenger services to resume on 7 November.

The first BA London-New York flight on the supersonic plane will be for corporate customers and the media, and the first commercial flight will be on 9 November.

Bookings have already opened for what will be, initially, a six-times-a-week London to New York service. There will be no Saturday flights.

Safety modifications

The plane can reach New York in about three hours 20 minutes, less than half the travelling time of a subsonic aircraft.

It has previously carried out two test flights but has returned to Britain after flying halfway across the Atlantic, without landing in New York.

The tests are to check the safety modifications put in place in the wake of the Air France Concorde tragedy, in which 113 people were killed when the plane crashed near Paris.

All commercial flights were grounded after the accident last summer at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport.

The accident is thought to have been caused by a metal object left on the runway which burst a tyre.

Modifications include stronger tyres

Tyre fragments penetrated the fuel tank, leading to a catastrophic fire which caused the aircraft to crash on a hotel about 10 miles from Paris.

All 109 passengers and crew on board were killed, plus four people on the ground.

Both BA, which has seven Concordes, and Air France, which has five, have made improvements to their planes.

These include the fitting of bullet-proof Kevlar rubber linings to the fuel tank to prevent any possible rupturing, new, tougher tyres and a strengthening of the wiring in the undercarriage bay.

Psychological effect

The return of the aircraft to transatlantic flights has been hailed as a symbol of New York's recovery after the 11 September atrocities.

The international aviation industry has been hit hard by the aftermath of the attacks, carried out by four hijacked airliners.

There are hopes that the psychological effect of Concorde's return may boost confidence in the air industry generally.

BA is also planning to relaunch its London-Barbados service once a week from December.

The BBC's Tom Symonds
"Concorde is an enduring symbol for British Airways"
The BBC's Malcolm Brabant
"Concorde was carrying scores of engineers"

Return to the skies?

The investigation

The crash





See also:

15 Oct 01 | Business
Demand for Concorde uncertain
05 Sep 01 | Europe
Concorde to get flight approval
23 Jul 01 | Talking Point
Can Concorde regain its status?
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