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Concorde could fly again soon

All Concordes have been grounded since last year's crash  

PARIS, France -- Air France has said Concorde passenger flights could resume this summer or in early autumn.

Air France chief executive Jean-Cyril Spinetta told the Associated Press: "Taking into account everything I know ... I think we can consider that the airplane could have its airworthiness certificate returned during the summer or at the beginning of fall -- though it's not for me to say."

Concorde was grounded after an Air France Concorde crashed in Paris last July killing more than 100 people.

The decision to restore the jets' airworthiness certificate rests with the French and British governments.

Both British Airways (BA) and Air France, which operate the world's fleet of Concordes, have said their supersonic service will resume once the jets are authorised to fly.

And they have both said they hoped to offer supersonic trans-Atlantic services this year, but the timetable depends on how long it takes to make changes to the aircraft.

BA said earlier this month it was confident that the UK Civil Aviation Authority would re-issue the certificate of airworthiness for the planes.

Rod Eddington, BA's chief executive, said: "I am confident we will have it (Concorde) back in the air by late summer."

However he added: "It is the regulator that has the final call not the airline."

Spinetta said the grounding of Air France's fleet of Concordes had cost the company around 35 million euros ($29.9 million).

Technicians in France have tested Concordes outfitted with new tires and a reinforced fuel tank, designed to offer more protection against punctures.

The investigation focused on whether a piece of metal on the runway set off the tragic chain of events, with a punctured tyre causing debris to rupture the plane's fuel tanks triggering a fire that brought the plane down.

A total of 113 people -- 100 passengers, nine crew and four on the ground -- were killed in the July 25 crash, moments after the supersonic jet took off from Charles de Gaulle Airport.

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• Settlement deal for Concorde bereaved
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• Concorde compensation deal near
May 5, 2001
• 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

• CAA - Civil Aviation Authority
• Air France
• British Airways

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