Report points finger at officials in Concorde crash

17th August 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Aug 16 (AFP) - Failure to correct a known weakness on the supersonic Concorde aircraft is in part to blame for the fatal 2000 crash of one of the planes, an experts' report seen by AFP Tuesday said.

PARIS, Aug 16 (AFP) - Failure to correct a known weakness on the supersonic Concorde aircraft is in part to blame for the fatal 2000 crash of one of the planes, an experts' report seen by AFP Tuesday said.

It makes serious criticisms of the manufacturer and two French official bodies for failing to react appropriately to a problem first identified in 1979.

The final report on the crash, which happened at Gonesse near Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport on July 25, 2000 and cost the lives of all 113 aboard, was published in December and said a "major fault" on the lower side of the Concorde's wing was in part responsible.

The crash has been blamed on the presence of a strip of metal left on the runway at the airport by a DC-10 of Continental Airways.

But the experts' report, sent last week to the investigating magistrate in charge of the case Christophe Regnard, says the fault had been known about since 1979 after an incident involving a Concorde in Washington.

But steps taken to remedy it "were not in comformity with aeronautical regulations, in particular in terms of safety."

The planemaker Aerospatiale, now EADS, identified the problem but "the practical measures taken (were) inadequate to resolve the risks revealed."

For the experts who produced the report there was therefore " a striking contrast between the perspicacity of the intitial analysis .. and the relative inadequacy of the solutions adopted."

The report comments on "a wait-and-see passivity on the part of the planemaker compared with events during operation", in particular the following up of incidents in 1985 and 1993 which were "precursors of the Gonesse accident".

It also draws attention to mistakes by the French Civil Aviation General Direction (DGAC) and the Service of Aeronautical Training and Technical Control (SFACT), two organisations with responsbility for aircraft accidents whose choices for strengthening the plane are described as "minimalist".

In the case of the DGAC, "it is regrettable that its senior officials after having so well learnt the seriousness of the potential consequences" of the flaw in Concorde "did not think they had to go so far as to tell its manufacturer to take steps adequate to deal more fully with the situations encountered."

More worrying, the experts say that "without being able realistically to understand their importance, it is clear that political and financial factors had a certain influence on decisions taken by the DGAC in 1981-2 after the Washington accident.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news, Concorde, crash, DGAC, SFACT

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