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The BBC's Simon Montague
"British Airways faces a battle to maintain public confidence in its flagship plane"
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Rod Eddington, BA Chief Executive
"It's too early to reflect on the future of Concorde"
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Lawyer for Air France crash families, Prof Giemulla
"I trust the authorities... they will not allow Concorde to fly again."
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Tuesday, 15 August, 2000, 18:06 GMT 19:06 UK
BA Concorde flights suspended
Grounded British Airways Concorde
Grounded jet in a maintenance bay at Heathrow airport
British Airways has announced it is suspending all its Concorde flights with immediate effect.

The move follows advice from air regulation authorities, the company said.

BA was warned that the aircraft's airworthiness certification was to be revoked by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB), which regulate air travel in the UK.

A statement from the French Transport Ministry suggests that problems with Concorde's tyres prompted BA's action.

The decision follows the crash of a French Concorde last month which killed 113 passengers.

All our aircraft are subject to continuing and exhaustive safety checks

Rod Eddington
BA chief executive
The French ministry's statement said France's Accident and Inquiry Bureau and Britain's AAIB will recommend supersonic flights are suspended "until appropriate measures guaranteeing a satisfactory level of safety concerning risks linked to tyres is in place".

It said French and British investigators would meet on Thursday to discuss the length of the suspension of flights.

Air France supersonic flights have been grounded since the crash on 25 July.

But BA took the decision to postpone its supersonic flights for only one day following the crash in the French town of Gonesse.

The French Accident Inquiry Bureau had thought that a metal strip found on the runway at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport had slashed a tyre causing the jet to crash.

A spokesman for the CAA in London said it was likely to instruct BA, Air France and Concorde's manufacturers that they should take whatever action was necessary to make sure the aircraft was safe.

"We should not see this as the end of Concorde," he said.

Extensive checks

A morning flight on Tuesday from London to New York was halted as it was taxiing to the runway with 37 passengers on board.

BA chief executive Rod Eddington said its first concern was always safety.

"All our aircraft are subject to continuing and exhaustive safety checks," he said.

Air France Concorde crash
The Air France Concorde crashed into a hotel shortly after take off
"We have been in constant contact with the airworthiness authorities in the UK and France, the airframe and engine manufacturers, and Air France throughout Concorde's flying life, and particularly closely since the accident in Paris last month," he added.

He said the company had introduced a series of additional procedures.

These included new checks on the aircraft's airframe, engines, tyres and wheels, hydraulics and other systems and operating procedures.

Mr Eddington said the CAA had agreed with BA's decision to resume Concorde's services shortly after the Air France crash.

"We were notified this morning by the Air Accident Investigation Branch that, in the light of latest information available to it, and its French counterparts, the BEA, would tomorrow recommend that the certificate of airworthiness for the aircraft should be suspended.

"We discussed this with the CAA and we understand that it would be minded to accept this advice," he said.

Rod Eddington: "A very sad day"
Mr Eddington said BA then decided to immediately withdraw its supersonic fleet from service, cancelling the Concorde service BA001 which was about to depart for New York.

"It's a very sad day for British aviation and for British Airways because Concorde is the queen of our fleet and everyone at BA is really committed to the aircraft," he told BBC News 24.

Paul Beaver, of Jane's Defence Weekly magazine, said he was shocked that the decision was taken three weeks after the Air France crash.

"I would have thought we would have had a clean bill of health for Concorde," he told BBC News 24.

They have for some reason decided that it is impractical or too dangerous to continue flying Concorde

Paul Beaver
Jane's Defence Weekly
He said something must have been found in the investigation being conducted by the CAA and its French counterpart.

"They have for some reason decided that it is impractical or too dangerous to continue flying Concorde for the moment, perhaps until some remedy is taken," he said.

"I would imagine that some in-depth research has been done which has said there is something wrong with Concorde at the moment," Mr Beaver added.

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See also:

11 Aug 00 | Europe
French Concordes stay grounded
04 Aug 00 | Europe
Fresh clue to Concorde crash
25 Jul 00 | UK
Concorde 'still the safest'
25 Jul 00 | Europe
Concorde crash kills 113
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