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Concorde compensation deal near

Concorde lands in Paris after another succesful test flight  

BERLIN, Germany (CNN) -- A deal to give relatives of the Concorde crash victims compensation is expected to be reached within weeks.

It came as Concorde completed the latest tests which will allow it to take to the skies as a commercial operation again.

Flying at subsonic speed, the needle-nosed jet flew without passengers on Saturday from a military air base in Istres, near Marseille, and landed at Paris' Orly Airport.

Meanwhile, the families' German lawyer Gerhart Baum said he expected the amount awarded to be "very significant," but he refused to discuss the sum.

The supersonic jet was grounded soon after it crashed after take off in Paris last July, killing all 109 on board and four on the ground.

In a German TV interview, Baum indicated that a threat to sue Air France, the plane's operator, in U.S. courts would lead to a large settlement by European standards.

"We have combined elements of American damages with French law, and this has led to very significant compensation for the loss of someone close," Baum told n-tv.

However, lawyers representing families of the 99 Germans killed in the crash have repeatedly said an agreement was imminent only to see it delayed.

Investigators believe that a metal strip lying on the runway at Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport gashed one of the Concorde's tires on takeoff.

That sent rubber debris from the tyre flying towards fuel tanks and triggering a fuel leak and fire that brought the plane down.

Saturday's test flight is the latest step to resuming commercial flights.

Investigators hope tests that began on January 18 will help determine the precise cause of the July 25 crash when the aircraft, with flames spewing from the wings, slammed into the ground minutes after taking off from Charles de Gaulle airport. After the crash, certification allowing the 12 existing Concordes to fly was withdrawn and the jets, operated by Air France and British Airways, were grounded until safety could be assured.

French and British teams of investigators have worked closely together to determine the cause of the crash. The two airlines that operate the jets joined forces to develop and test new safety measures.

Concorde tests new tyres
April 18, 2001
Concorde compensation deal agreed
April 6, 2001
Concorde test pilot dies
March 25, 2001
Concorde completes safety tests
February 2, 2001
Concorde flies again
January 18, 2001
History of the supersonic airliner
April 18, 2001

Air France
British Airways

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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