How supersonic tragedy unfolded
Published 07/12/2010 | 05:00
Air France Flight 4590 took off from Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris shortly after 4pm on July 25, 2000, bound for New York.
The supersonic jet was carrying nine French crew and 100 passengers -- mostly German tourists bound for a 16-day cruise to South America. As it sped down the runway at 200mph, the jet ran over a titanium strip that had fallen off another aircraft, which ruptured its tyre. Rubber debris flew up and pierced a fuel tank under the wing, causing a kerosene leak and an electric arc that sparked a fire.
After shutting down engine two, which was trailing streaks of fire, the crew could not gain sufficient airspeed in the remaining three engines. Unable to climb, the Concorde struggled on at an altitude of 200ft. The crew tried to divert to a nearby airport, but asymmetric thrust caused the starboard wing to lift and the plane plummeted into a hotel.