French Court Hears Appeals in Concorde Accident

 - March 19, 2012, 10:00 AM
Moments after takeoff, Air France Flight 4590 was in flames.

With the potential of creating far-ranging consequences to a devastating accident more than a decade ago, the stage was set in a French court last Thursday to overturn the verdict against Continental Airlines in the July 2000 crash of an Air France Concorde supersonic transport (SST) in Paris. Opening arguments were heard in an appeals court in Versailles to consider the U.S. carrier’s request to purge its 2010 involuntary manslaughter verdict, as well as that of one of its mechanics. A number of French defendants originally found not guilty may be retried as well.

In 2010, the French Court in Pontoise blamed Continental for the crash after the SST, Air France Flight 4570, rolled over a 16-inch piece of titanium that had fallen off a Continental DC-10, which had departed just ahead. Continental labeled the original verdict absurd. Sources said Continental is expected to highlight, as it did in the first trial, that the Concorde was already on fire early in the takeoff roll.

The French court believed the metal strip initiated the chain of events that ruptured one of the SST’s fuel tanks, igniting a fire that left the aircraft unable to climb more than a few hundred feet after takeoff from Charles de Gaulle Airport. The stricken Concorde crashed moments later into a hotel near Le Bourget, killing 113 people (100 passengers, nine crewmembers and four people on the ground).



In addition to so many victims, the life of more people was ruined, in attempt to
revenge and "game" of "big" money.
Even the same day, when it happen, it was clear that PIC did not managed turn
of the aircraft with one side (both engies) power lost. It is not first and not last
(unnecessary tragic) occurence. Due to very long investigation and all sorts of
intrests to attaccked/defend, key lessons wee lost.
I red, final Report, but:
1. No explanation how piece of DC10 RH engine cowling damaged Concord's LH
fuel tank.
2. Why ATC did not react quickly and properly to let Concord crew understand
hazard, when there was time and disatnce to abort take off?
3. Even there is quite numerious&long history of tires burst and consquent
damages, that aspect is left "aside".
[Concorde, with its high take off speed is very sensitive to the right tires
pressure, confirmed in so many cases.]
3.1 There was no report about last tire pressure check-when, who, records, ...
[Departure was delayed and most probably, last tire pressure check
had been made, the day before (could be serious violation).]
4. In the case of one side powwer loss, left or right turns requires different
techniques-bank angle, speed, ... Report does not analyse that, crucial
pilot's action.
Cause of the crash is result of pilot's lost of control after stall, due to
unappropriate conduction of the turn (attempt to return to ....)
Even I liked Concord (as aeronautical engineer and non professional pilot's
experience), regret "organized killing of the project", bitter (typical "chain")
human error (tire pressure check, ATC reaction, ... to final-pilot's ) caused
multiple tragedy, without necessary lesson (lost in time and numerous elements
not highlighted).
Even it was possible to make certain conclusions, have warning and teach lessons,
formal (and long ) investigation prevented it.
Such approach led to simmilar tragedy and again "atack" to maintenance personnel.
[Remember, SPANAIR's Madrid crash!]
Full benefit from French Court Appeal could come out, if cause request for re-investigation, since there are, at least, four areas requiring lights to be turned on.
Paseengers, people on the ground, mainteannce personnel, pilots, ATC, aircraft design responsible organization and aviation authorities, need to get satisfaction.
protection and get lessons.
Dipl. ing. Srboljubv Savic

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