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Air France Concorde plane crash
Paris, France
25th July, 2000

Paris, France On Tuesday 25th July, 2000, the Concorde F-BTSC operated by Air-France is ready to take off from Paris Charles de Gaulle for the passenger flight AFR 4590 to New York. 100 passengers and 9 crew members (3 PNT, 6 PNC) are onboard.

During take-off from runway 26 right at Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport, shortly before rotation, the front right tyre (tyre No 2) of the left landing gear ran over a strip of metal, which has fallen from another aircraft and was damaged. Debris was thrown against the wing structure leading to a rupture of the fuel tank 5. A major fire, fuelled by the leak, broke out almost immediately under the left wing. Problems appeared shortly afterwards on engine 2, and for a brief period on engine 1. The aircraft took off. The crew shut down engine 2, then only operating at idle power, following an engine fire alarm. They noticed that the landing gear would not retract. The aircraft flew for around 1 minute at a speed of about 200 kts, and a radio-altitude of about 200 feet, but was unable to gain height or speed. Engine 1 then lost thrust, the aircraft’s angle of attack and bank increased sharply. The thrust on engine 3 and 4 fell suddenly. The aircraft crashed onto a hotel. All the 109 people onboard are killed, as well as 4 people on ground. 6 other people on ground are injured.

Concorde on fire taking off from Roissy airport
Concorde on fire taking off from Roissy airport

The investigation showed that the accident is due to the following causes:
  • High speed passage of a tyre over a part lost by an aircraft that had taken off five minutes earlier, and destruction of the tyre
  • The ripping out of a large piece of tank in a complex process of transmission of the energy produced by the impact of a piece of tyre at another point of the tank, this transmission associating deformation of the tank skin and the movement of the fuel, with perhaps the contributing effect of other more minor shocks and / or a hydrodynamic pressure surge
  • Ignition of the leaking fuel by an electric arc in the landing gear bay or throught contact with the hot part of the engine with forward propagation of the flame causing a very large fire under the aircraft’s wing and severe loss of thrust on engine 2 then engine 1
  • In addition, the impossibility of retracting the landing gear probably contributed to the retention and stabilisation of the flame throughout the flight.
The runway just after Concorde took off on it
The runway just after Concorde took off on it

Video of the accident - Video of Concorde on fire, taking-off from Roissy CDG airport and crashing a few seconds later.

Transcripts of the Roissy CDG control tower communication (translation from French – UTC hours)

AFR 4590 is the Concord flight number.

13 :58 (AFR 4590) - Concorde for New York in Echo 26, we would need the whole length of the 26 right

14 :07 (Roissy CDG Control tower) - ...Expect the 26 right...

14 :07 (AFR 4590) – On the 26 right...

14 :34 (Roissy CDG Control tower) - Air France 45 90, good afternoon, clear to taxi to the 26 right by Romeo ... Do you want Whisky 10 or Romeo ?

14 :34 (AFR 4590) – We need the whole runway

14 :34 (Roissy CDG Control tower) – OK, so you taxi for Romeo, Air France 45 90

14 :40 :01 (Roissy CDG Control tower) - 45 90 align 26 right

14 :40 :05 (AFR 4590) – We align and maintain 26 right, 45 90

14 :42 :17 (Roissy CDG Control tower) - 45 90 runway 26 right wind 090 8 kt clear for take-off

14 :42 :21 (AFR 4590) - 45 90 take-off 26 right

At this moment, the aircraft begins to accelerate in order to take-off.

The plate that caused the tyre to explode
The plate that caused the tyre to explode

14 :43 :13 (Roissy CDG Control tower) - ... 45 90 you have flames ... you have some flames behind you

14 :43 :13 (AFR 4590) – Roger

14 :43 :28 (Unidentified source) – It's burning badly and I'm not sure it's coming from the engine

14 :43 :31 (Roissy CDG Control tower) - 45 90 you have strong flames behind you

14 :43 :34 (AFR 4590) – Yes, Roger

14 :43 :37 (Roissy CDG Control tower) – So, at your convenience, you have priority to return for landing

14 :43 :41 (AFR 4590) – Roger

14 :44 :03 (Fire service leader) - De Gaulle tower of the Fire service leader

14 :44 :05 (Roissy CDG Control tower) - Fire service leader the Concorde euh ... I don’t know his intentions, get yourself in position near the south doublet

14 :44 :13 (Fire service leader) - De Gaulle of the Fire service leader the authorisation to enter 26 Right

14 :44 :18 (Roissy CDG Control tower) - Fire service leader correction the Concorde is returning to runway 09 in the opposite direction

14 :44 :22 (AFR 4590) – Negative, we’re trying the Bourg…

14 :44 :26 (Fire service leader) - De Gaulle tower of the Fire service leader could you give me the situation of the Concorde ?

14 :45 :10 (Roissy CDG Control tower) - Le Concord crashed close to the Bourget, Fire service leader

14 :46 :09 (Roissy CDG Control tower) – For all aircraft, I call back in a few seconds. We will get calmer and re-start take-off

14 :55 :47 (An aircraft inform the control tower) - ... There is smoke on the 26 Right, there is something burning, for information

14 :57 (A runway vehicle (Flyco 9) to the control tower) – There is some tyre… tyre debris burning

Concorde

Concorde supersonic transport (SST) was one of only two models of supersonic passenger aircraft to have seen commercial service. It was built by Sud-Aviation and the British Aircraft Corporation, and assembled at Toulouse. The white bird made its first flight on March 02nd, 1969.

Video of the accident - Last take-off from New York for the Bitish Airways White Bird.

Concorde had a cruise speed of Mach 2.02 (around 2,170 km/h or 1,350 mph) and a maximum cruise altitude of 60,000 feet (18 300 meters) with a delta wing configuration and a engines with post-combustion capability. It was the first civil airliner to be equipped with an analogue fly-by-wire flight control system. Commercial flights, operated by British Airways and Air France, began on January 21, 1976 and ended on October 24, 2003. On November 26th, 2003, Concorde made its “retirement” flight to come back to its birth place.

A total of 20 Concorde were built. 6 of them were for the development, and 14 for commercial operation.

Aircraft similar to the one which crashed (Concorde)
Aircraft similar to the one which crashed (Concorde)

Photos of the crash of Air France (25th July, 2000)

Click on a photo of the accident to enlarge it

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