16 January 2002

Concorde flight was doomed

The Concorde involved in the July 2000 crash was doomed even if its pilots had been able to abort take off, a final official report into the tragedy said today.

An aborted take off would have led to a collapse of the landing gear and to the aircraft "blazing up", the report from the French air accident investigation branch said.

All 109 people on board the Air France Concorde died when the plane crashed in flames outside Paris after taking off from Charles de Gaulle airport.

The report confirmed the accident was due to the "high-speed passage" of a tyre over a part lost by an aircraft which had taken off from Paris five minutes earlier. The tyre had been destroyed and fragments impacting on the fuel tank had led to the ripping out of a large piece of tank.

Fuel had been ignited through an electric source emanating from the landing gear bay or through contact with the hot parts of the engine.

A very large fire had broken out under the aircraft's wing and there was a severe loss of thrust on, first, the number two engine, and then on the number one engine.

The report said that even without any engine malfunction, the significant damage caused by the fire to the aircraft's structure would have led rapidly to the loss of the aircraft.