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The BBC's Tom Symonds
"There is only one fatal accident for every million flights world-wide
 real 56k

The BBC's Robert Hall at Heathrow Airport
"Concorde would fly"
 real 56k

The BBC's Caroline Wyatt, in Hanover
"The Church is providing a focal point for a nation trying to cope"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 26 July, 2000, 20:38 GMT 21:38 UK
BA resumes supersonic flights
Concorde leaves Heathrow
The BA Concorde took off with 49 passengers on board
British Airways has resumed flights of its Concorde passenger jets following exhaustive safety checks of its fleet.

An Air France Concorde crashed on Tuesday near Paris, killing 113 people.

Passengers travelling on a BA flight from Heathrow to New York on Wednesday were offered a refund and transfer to a Boeing 747.

But the majority were happy to travel on the BA flight, with only 29 of the 78 people due to fly opting to swap.

BA ran comprehensive checks on its Concorde fleet focusing on the planes engines, ahead of its decision to resume flights.

Air France Concorde flights remain suspended following the crash.


Lightning doesn't strike twice

Passenger Brian Pople
Chief Concorde pilot Mike Bannister said all the British Airways fleet had been thoroughly checked.

"We looked right inside the engines to inspect them and make sure they were in tip top condition," he told BBC news.

Speaking after checking-in at Heathrow, South African stockbroker Steven Bacher, 39, said he was undaunted by the tragedy in Paris.

"It's my first and I hope not my last flight on Concorde. I will be nervous for the first five minutes but after that I will be fine."

Brian Pople, an electrical contractor from Watford, said: "Lightning doesn't strike twice.

Wreckage of the Concorde
Air accident investigators are sifting through the wreckage
"It's only happened once in 30 years. If I thought it wasn't safe I wouldn't be going."

But not all passengers were confident enough to board Concorde.

Bill Bolster, the president of American Television network CNBC, 56, said: "I'm going to satisfy myself emotionally and go on another plane."

American pensioner Margaret Smith was another passenger left behind by BA001.

"I just felt a bit shocked and upset," she said.

At Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons, Tony Blair said that he had written to the German chancellor and the French president to convey Britain's "shock and heartfelt sympathies" over the air crash.


We have complete faith in the aircraft

British Airways

All the passengers on board the flight were German. The crew were French, as were victims on the ground.

Officials from BA spent Tuesday night liasing with Air France technical experts before deciding to resume BA Concorde services.

Senior BA managers cancelled two Concorde services - the BA003 from Heathrow to New York and the BA004 return journey - two hours after the disaster.

Air France vice president Christopher Korenke said its five remaining planes would be grounded until further notice.

Mixed feelings

And Liberal Democrat MP Jenny Tonge, whose constituency of Richmond Park, south-west London, lies under a Heathrow flight-path, called for the immediate suspension of Concorde flights from the UK.

The crashed plane destroyed a hotel

Three British air accident investigators have travelled to France to help French authorities investigate the crash.

A Civil Aviation Authority spokeswoman said it was "inappropriate" to take any action over UK Concordes until the French authorities reveal the findings of their investigations.

It emerged on Monday that "microscopic" cracks were detected on the wings of BA's Concorde fleet during maintenance checks - and Air France said it had detected cracks on four of its six Concordes.

But several aviation experts have said the cracks were a coincidence and could not be to blame for the crash, which appeared to be due to an engine failure.

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