Concorde Crashes After Take-Off From Paris : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

Just a blurb, so far.


-- (hmm@hmm.hmm), July 25, 2000


From CNN:


Concorde crashes near Paris; 109 dead July 25, 2000 Web posted at: 12:02 p.m. EDT (1602 GMT)

From staff and wire reports

PARIS -- An Air France Concorde en route to New York City crashed outside Paris shortly after takeoff Tuesday, slamming into a hotel in the town of Gonesse and killing all 109 aboard, French officials said. It was the first time one of the supersonic jets has crashed.

Interior Ministry officials said there were no survivors aboard the chartered flight.

The crash took place shortly before 5 p.m. local time (1500 GMT / 11 a.m. EDT), after takeoff from Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport. "It was a sickening site, a huge fireball," eyewitness Sid Hare told CNN.

Hare said the crash occurred about two miles from the hotel where he is staying.

France's LCI television quoted eyewitnesses as saying the aircraft was not able to gain sufficient altitude before it crashed, and that police were keeping onlookers away from the site.

"The airplane was struggling to climb and obviously couldn't get altitude," Hare, a pilot for Federal Express, said via telephone from France.

He said the Concorde had reached an altitude of about 200 feet before flames started shooting out from a left-side engine.

"He (the pilot) kept raising the nose ... and the airplane stalled, the nose went straight up into the air and the airplane actually rolled over to the left and almost inverted when it went down in huge fireball when it hit (the ground)," Hare said.

France Info radio quoted another eyewitness as saying the plane's motor was on fire and that a huge cloud of black smoke went up in the air.

British Airways said Monday it had found cracks in the wings of some of its supersonic aircraft, but said there was no danger to passengers.

The Concorde, which crosses the Atlantic at 1,350 mph, has been considered among the world's safest planes. Its only major scare came in 1979, when a bad landing blew out a plane's tires. The incident led to a design modification.

The plane is popular with celebrities, world-class athletes and the rich. It flies above turbulence at nearly 60,000 feet, crossing the Atlantic in about 3 1/2 hours, less than half that of regular jetliners.

The first Concorde flew in 1969. Now, 13 of the needle-nosed supersonic jets are operated by Air France and British Airways. A round-trip Paris-New York ticket costs $9,000, roughly 25 percent more than regular first class. A London-New York round-trip runs $9,850.

Air France officials have said in the past that their current fleet is fit to fly safely until 2007.

-- (hmm@hmm.hmm), July 25, 2000.

The news reports this morning have included some eye witness reports from the Paris airport. One private pilot said there were large volumes of black smoke pouring from all 4 engines during rollout (takeoff). In addition, the engines were producing an unusual noise that got louder as the plane got airborne. I flew in the military for many years and to me this sounds like bad or contaminated fuel. Just guessing is all.

-- Ra (tion@l.1), July 25, 2000.

Here's another article. Hopefully, it formats okay. LINK Concorde Disaster Near Paris Kills 113

Reuters Photo
Reuters Photo

By Crispian Balmer

GONESSE, France (Reuters) - An Air France Concorde carrying German tourists to a five-star cruise crashed in a ball of fire after take-off from Paris on Tuesday, killing 109 people on board and four more on the ground, emergency services said.

The disaster was the first crash in almost 30 years of service for the sleek supersonic Anglo-French airliner which revolutionized transatlantic travel for the wealthy.

Air France confirmed that one of the plane's four engines had caught fire on take-off, minutes before the aircraft crashed between two hotels in the town of Gonesse just southwest of Charles de Gaulle airport.

``I think it tried to turn back but we can't confirm that yet,'' a spokeswoman said.

Witnesses reported seeing a fireball trailing from an engine on the left wing before the plane ploughed into the ground. It tore into the wing of one of the buildings, the Hotelissimo.

One amateur photograph showed the plane flying low and trailing a stream of flame almost as long as its own fuselage.

A pilot for the Fedex courier company told CNN television that the plane had failed to gain altitude, stalled, rolled over and slid to the ground in a fireball ``like a mini atomic bomb.''

A fire service spokesman, Philippe Lavoil, said one person on the plane, taking German tourists to New York on a flight chartered by a German tour operator, had apparently survived.

``Flipped Like A Pancake''

But Prime Minister Lionel Jospin said no one on board was likely to be alive. Air France put the number of people on board at 109 -- 100 German tourists including three children, and nine crew. It said it had no information on the death toll.

Local officials said five others on the ground were injured.

``I thought it was going to land in my office. I saw it coming down in flames and I fled,'' the manager of the other hotel told Europe 1 radio. ``Instead, it passed a few meters from the building and crashed into the hotel next door.''

``It made a half turn...then it flipped over like a pancake,'' said witness Christian Dupont, speaking at the scene.

Plumes of thick gray smoke continued to rise from the crash site, scattered with charred wreckage, more than two hours after the plane went down at 4:44 p.m. (1444 GMT).

Emergency service helicopters hovered overhead as police, fire fighters and medical workers tackled the disaster.

Nathalie Wycisk, an office worker in a building that stands just beyond the airport runway, saw the crash.

``The pilot realized there was an enormous problem and tried to turn around but the plane fell straight down,'' she said.

``When it tried to accelerate it caught fire behind. It fell directly on its wing. It wanted to turn around and -- boom -- it just fell,'' she said. ``Everything was shaking.''

Leaders In Shock

Jospin went immediately to the scene of the disaster while in Germany, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder canceled the rest of his day's engagements. His office said he was in shock.

``It's practically certain that there were no survivors in this aircraft. We are thinking of all the families, the crew and of our German friends,'' Jospin said.

Reuters Photo
Reuters Photo

French President Jacques Chirac telephoned Schroeder to extend his condolences.

Air France and British Airways both said on Monday that they had detected microscopic cracks in the wings of Concorde aircraft but Air France said there was no danger to passengers.

Air France chairman Jean-Cyril Spinetta, speaking at the scene of the crash, said there was ``no possible link'' between the microfissures and the fire in the rear engine.

He said the plane that crashed had been in Air France's fleet for about 20 years and had had maintenance checks on July 21 after less than 12,000 hours of flight.

French Transport Minister Jean-Claude Gayssot said an inquiry would begin immediately.

``At this moment we have not yet retrieved the flight recorder, but we would imagine it will be found,'' he said.

With its dramatic delta-wing and movable pointed nose cone, Concorde has never aged in the minds of the British and French public, to most of whom it remains a source of beauty and pride.

To the rich and famous it remains equally revered as a means of crossing the Atlantic in half the time of a conventional jet. Flight AF 4590 had been chartered by the German luxury tour operator Peter Deilmann Reederei GmbH & Co to take wealthy vacationers to New York, where they were to have joined a cruise on the five-star liner Deutschland on Thursday.

The ship was to have taken the group, who paid between 8,500 and 22,000 marks ($4,100-10,600) each, to Manta in Ecuador via stops including Florida, the Bahamas and Cuba.

One- Off Charter

``This was a special one-off charter to coincide with the fact that the ship was in New York,'' said Richard Escadale, an official at the tour operator's London office.

``As we are a very deluxe operation with our ship there it just seemed logical to tie in a flight on Concorde to join them,'' he told Sky Television.

The Concorde was a triumph of 1960s technology, built to fly at twice the speed of sound. The design turned out to be highly uneconomical but the plane's safety record had been unblemished until Tuesday's crash.

Its only previous accident was in 1979 when the tires of a Concorde blew out on landing. There were no casualties.

Only 20 were built and a total of 13 are in service, seven with British Airways and six with Air France.

Air France had no immediate comment on whether it would ground its remaining Concordes.

British Airways said senior managers were meeting to review the situation, but that two evening flights on Tuesday evening, one from London to New York and one in the opposite direction, would be canceled.

British Airways operates two scheduled flights a day between London and New York, with Air France running a daily service from Paris to New York. Both carriers supplement their income from regular flights with charter services.

-- (hmm@hmm.hmm), July 25, 2000.

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