Passengers boarded Air France Voyage 4590 from Paris to New York early on July 25, 2000, and settled down for what was expected to be a protracted flight aboard a supersonic aircraft. Unfortunately, their flight was over in under two minutes. The supersonic concorde aircraft crashed into a hotel in Gonesse, France, shortly after takeoff, killing all 109 passengers as well as 4 people on the ground.
In 24 years of regular passenger operation, it was a Concorde crash that resulted in a fatality. The incident is thought to have accelerated the 2003 closure of all Concorde operations.
A charter plane named Flight 4590 flew from Paris to New York City. It was an Air France Concorde with the registration F-BTSC. German tourists made up the majority of the passengers as they travelled to New York City to board a cruise ship destined for the Caribbean.
The jet took a departure from Charles de Gaulle Airport at 4:43 p.m. However, ground observers saw a fire on the left side, beneath the wing, as it took off down the runway. On the runway, the aircraft drifted to the left, and just as it was about to take off, one of the two left-side engines failed. After the other left-side engine failed around 90 seconds into takeoff, the pilot was only able to ascend to a height of about 200 feet (60 metres).
The plane then abruptly lost altitude and crashed into a small hotel and eatery in the town of Gonesse.
Nine staff members and 100 passengers all perished on board. Six more people were hurt, and four more persons on the ground died.
The final Concorde aircraft owned by Air France was promptly grounded, and the final Concorde aircraft owned by British Airways was grounded in August. In November 2001, both airlines restarted operations, but less than two years later, all Concorde service was permanently halted.
Root Cause of the Concorde crash
The Concorde ran over a piece of metal on the runway, which led to a tyre blowing out, according to an examination into the incident conducted by the French government. The gasoline tank on the bottom of the wing was then damaged by a sizable piece of rubber. (Fuel made up more than half of the Concorde’s overall weight when fully laden.) The entirely filled tank likely ruptured inside as a result of the accident. The engines failed as a result of the fire that was started by the fuel spill, which was presumably triggered by an electrical arc in the wiring of the landing gear.
A jet engine component that had fallen off a Continental Airlines DC-10 during the course of that aircraft’s own takeoff, a few minutes before the Concorde, was discovered to be the strip of metal on the runway. A thrust reverser worn strip, which was an engine component, had just been changed as part of standard maintenance. Instead of using stainless steel as instructed by the engine’s manufacturer, the mechanic utilised a strip consisting of an alloy with 90 percent titanium content.
The French investigators had mainly disregarded other potential contributing variables, according to those who criticised the official findings. The aircraft may have skidded down the runway because the landing gear system lacked a “spacer” and the aircraft weighed more than the recommended takeoff weight.
Aftermath of crash
In the Concord’s 31-year existence, Air France Flight 4590 was the sole incident that resulted in a fatality (no other commercial aircraft has matched that record). The Concorde was the safest airliner in the world at the time, having a record of zero mishaps per km travelled prior to the crash. Nevertheless, the demise of the legendary aeroplane began with the accident of Air France Flight 4590.
Continental Airlines and one of its mechanics, John Taylor, were both judged to have committed crimes for their roles in the accident in December 2010, but their convictions were reversed in a French court in 2012 on the basis that their mistakes did not constitute crimes.
On September 11, 2001, the first passenger aircraft following the accident ascended to the skies and landed soon before the World Trade Center attacks, for which that date is better known.
In April 2003, Air France and British Airways announced the retirement of the Concorde fleet, citing decreased passenger traffic following the Air France tragedy, which was exacerbated by the broader decline in air travel following 9/11 and higher maintenance costs.
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