Titanium in strip 'causedParis Concorde crash'

21st July 2004, Comments 0 comments

CERGY, France, July 21 (AFP) - The composition of a rogue metal strip which led to the dramatic crash of an Air France Concorde in 2000 played a direct role in the tragedy, according to a source in a French prosecutor's office.

CERGY, France, July 21 (AFP) - The composition of a rogue metal strip which led to the dramatic crash of an Air France Concorde in 2000 played a direct role in the tragedy, according to a source in a French prosecutor's office.  

The primary cause of the accident in which 113 people were killed was found to have been a piece of debris from a DC-10 aircraft lying on the runway at Charles de Gaulle airport that shredded one of Concorde's tyres as it was taking off.  

Bits of tyre flew into the fuel tank, piercing it and starting the fire that sent the world-famous supersonic aircraft plunging into a Parisian suburb.  

"The fact that the strip from the DC-10 was made of a different (alloy) - titanium - from that of the original part had a direct impact on the crash of Concorde," the source at the prosecutor's office in the northern French town of Pontoise said on Tuesday.  

A judicial investigation into the materials used in the manufacture of Concorde's tyres demonstrated in July 2001 that the alloy normally used in the Continental Airlines DC-10 aircraft part "does not cut tyres" - contrary to titanium.  

Widely seen as one of the greatest technological feats of the 20th century, Concorde flew for the final time in 2003 after three decades of luxury travel faster than the speed of sound.  

The original DC-10 part was replaced by its titanium equivalent in the US city of Houston and the French judge leading the investigation, Christophe Regnard, was now investigating why, and how often, the original metal part was replaced by one made from titanium, the source said.  

The conclusions of this investigation could form the basis for the opening of prosecution proceedings.   Another source close to the inquiry who did not wish to be named said titanium was not a material "that appeared in DC-10 maintenance manuals" for this type of part. The Pontoise prosecutor's office said it could not confirm that statement for legal reasons.   

Jerome Boursican, a lawyer acting on behalf of the pilots' union and who is working with the prosecutor on the case, said titanium was "a substance normally very uncommon for this type of metal part."  

"It looks from the evidence that the metal part from the DC-10, which was... made of titanium, split the tyre of the Concorde, creating a shock wave which notably led to the piercing of the fuel tank and the fire on the aircraft," Boursican said.  

The examining magistrate is also thought to be examining what was happening in the cockpit at the time of the crash.  

A final report on the tragedy is expected to be published in the autumn, at which time it will be revealed if any individuals will be prosecuted in connection with the accident.  

The tragedy hastened the end of Concorde. In April 2003, Air France and British Airways - the only other airline to use Concordes - announced the jet was being retired due to falling passenger numbers and spiralling maintenance costs.

 

© AFP

Subject: French news

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