What caused the 2000 Concorde crash?
Ten years later, the cause of Air France Flight 4590’s crash outside Paris is the subject of a trial starting today in France. All 100 passengers, nine crew, and four people on the ground died when the Concorde crashed on July 25, 2000.
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"Early in the Concorde crash investigation Ken Smart, heading the UK team working with the French investigators, bemoaned the fact that, at the awful accident site, the police and judiciary were standing around not knowing what to do; but as soon as one of the professional investigators showed an interest in a piece of debris it was removed and locked up as evidence for the prosecution," Learmount writes on his blog for Flight International magazine.Skip to next paragraph
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"Not a great way to find out what happened so as to prevent a recurrence, but, hey, this is apparently about creating a fascinating case for lawyers to work on for years to come."
The Independent offers this run-down of the charges against the defendants in the case.
This isn’t the first time the Concorde crash made it to court. In 2001, French families of the deceased lodged suit in Harris County District Court, Texas, against Continental Airlines and the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, the maker of the Concorde's burst wheel. The case was settled out of court and the case was closed in mid-2006. The Law Office of Kevin Krist, who represented some of the plaintiffs, says the settlement was confidential and declined comment to the Monitor.
Exorbitant fuel costs made the Concorde uneconomical. In 1989, a round-trip ticket from London to New York cost about $6,500. By 2003, airfare had soared to as high as $12,000 for a round trip between New York and Paris. (For the Monitor's history of supersonic commercial aviation in the US, click here).
The 2000 crash hastened the demise of a jet that shook homes when it blasted through the sound barrier to cruise speeds of 1,350 miles per hour. As its makers, Air France and British Airways, were taking the plane out of service in 2003, the Monitor found that Americans had lost interest in supersonic flight services aboard the world’s fastest commercial jetliner. Few bothered to observe the jet’s final flight over Boston.
“Probably if a space shuttle was flying over Revere Beach, people would come out here,” one of the few observers of the final flight said with a shrug. “But I don't think anyone really cares about this.”