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Concorde crash July 25, 2000

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File photo dated 27/07/00 of a crash investigator looking amongst the wreckage of the remains of the Concorde aircraft which crashed in Gonesse, near Paris, killing 113 people. Photo: Toby Melville/PA Wire

File photo dated 27/07/00 of a crash investigator looking amongst the wreckage of the remains of the Concorde aircraft which crashed in Gonesse, near Paris, killing 113 people. Photo: Toby Melville/PA Wire

File photo dated 27/07/00 of a crash investigator looking amongst the wreckage of the remains of the Concorde aircraft which crashed in Gonesse, near Paris, killing 113 people. Photo: Toby Melville/PA Wire

SHE was a hi-tech aircraft capable of crossing the Atlantic in just 3.5 hours, less than half the time taken by a conventional jet.

But when Concorde crashed just moments after take-off on July 25, 2000, the end of an era for mass supersonic travel was in sight.

The Air France plane, bound for New York, plummeted to the ground 10 miles north of Paris after an engine caught fire, killing all 109 people on board and four people on the ground.

It was the first Concorde to crash during the plane's 34-year history, and was the beginning of the end.

The first test flight took place in 1969 and the aircraft entered service in 1976. Measuring 62 metres long, it stretched between 15cm and 25cm during flight as the airframe heated.

A characteristic droop nose was lowered during take-off and landing to offer improved pilot visibility, and the plane flew at an astonishing 2,200kph -- more than twice the speed of sound.

A typical London to New York crossing took less than three-and-a-half hours, as opposed to about eight hours for a sub-sonic flight.

Travelling westwards, the five-hour time difference meant Concorde effectively arrived before she left, prompting British Airways to say she travelled "faster than the sun".

This speed did not come cheap, and a return ticket could cost as much as €10,000. Despite this, some 2.5 million trips were made over its career, with one oil company executive clocking up 70 round trips in a year.

The tragic accident happened the day after British Airways revealed that hairline cracks had been found in the wings of all seven of its fleet.

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An accident investigation report found that a piece of metal had punctured one of Concorde's tyres, causing debris to be flung into the fuel tank, which started the fire.

Despite briefly re-entering service in 2001, and millions being spent on safety improvements, in April 2003 BA and Air France announced that Concorde would be permanently grounded from the following October.


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