4 December 2002

Concorde loses rudder in mid-air

The rudder has fallen off a British Airways Concorde during a London to New York flight.

The pilots on the flight last Wednesday said they felt a continuous vibration as the plane approached New York's JFK airport. After a normal landing, an inspection found part of the lower of four rudders on the tail fin was missing, a BA spokesman said.

An urgent investigation has been launched into the incident. None of the 96 passengers and nine crew on board flight BA 001 was injured.

The spokesman said: "A small part of one of the lower rudders became detached during the flight. "The aircraft flew safely throughout the flight and landed safely. The missing part did not affect the safety of the aircraft. At no stage during the flight were the passengers or aircraft in any danger."

Air accident investigators told the BBC they were concerned last week's incident was "very similar" to a previous one in 1998. It is the fourth incident to affect Concorde over the past six weeks.

A New York-bound BA Concorde was forced to turn back to London after an engine had to be shut down on November 3. On October 30, a BA Concorde flying from New
York to London had suffered three tiny cracks on the outer layers of one of the cabin windows.

In another incident in November, engine failure forced an Air France Concorde to descend thousands of feet, causing panic among the passengers on board.