Concorde crash verdict vindicates 'James Bond' of planes
Concorde crash verdict came down Monday, with a French court ruling that Continental Airlines was responsible for the 2000 disaster that killed 113 people and hastened the end of supersonic commercial flights.
Today's court ruling in France on the 2000 Concorde crash was seen by some as vindication for the world’s first and only supersonic commercial jet.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
The ruling found that Continental Airlines Inc. was “criminally responsible” for littering a piece of metal on the runway of Charles de Gaulle airport on July 25, 2000. The metal punctured a tire on Air France Flight AF4590 and spewed debris into the jet's engine, sparking a fire that downed the Concorde and killed all 109 people aboard and four people on the ground.
The judgment, however, is unlikely to go so far as to bring “the James Bond of airplanes” out of retirement.
“Nobody is even talking about it,” says David Learmount, an aviation expert and airplane safety editor for Flight International magazine. “The technology to produce the son of Concorde exists, but the costs would be stratospheric.”
The Concorde has not flown since 2003, when it was permanently grounded as a result of bad publicity from the crash in 2000 and also because of dwindling appetite for the jet’s exorbitant tickets. A roundtrip flight from New York to Paris cost up to $12,000.
“On commercial grounds, it will never go back into service again,” Mr. Learmount says by telephone from Sutton, England. “Most people would never have the chance to fly on the Concorde – it’s too expensive. But it’s the ultimate in glamour. It’s the James Bond of airplanes.”
The 202-ft. supersonic airliner could reach Mach 2, halving transatlantic flight time during its operations from 1969 until 2003. A flight from Paris to New York City took about 3-1/2 hours, compared with the eight hours required by today’s commercial jets.
"It’s questionable whether it ever was economically viable," says Professor Hansman. "They really pulled it out of service because it was becoming prohibitively expensive to maintain and fly."