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Air chiefs push for Concorde return

A Concorde test flight lands at Shannon Airport, Ireland  

LONDON, England -- Concorde manufacturers are formally seeking permission for the supersonic plane to resume passenger flights.

Concordes operated by British Airways and Air France have not flown commercially since July 2000, when an Air France Concorde crashed near Paris, killing 113 people.

Both Airbus UK and Airbus France, who manufacture the plane, are to submit a dossier on Wednesday outlining the technical improvements they have made in the hope of regaining their permission-to-fly certificates from their respective aviation authorities.

Britain's Civil Aviation Authority, and France's Direction Général de l'Aviation Civile (DGAC) will study the dossiers and decide whether to allow the seven BA and five Air France Concordes back in the air.

Would you fly on Concorde?  

The supersonic jet's manufacturers have been working for months to ensure there can be no repetition of last year's disaster, caused when a metallic strip on the runway of Charles de Gaulle airport burst one of the plane's tyres during take of, flinging debris up into the fuel tank which ruptured and caught fire.

A number of technical modifications have since been made, including the fitting of bullet-proof rubber fuel-tank liners, stronger tyres and stronger wiring in the plane's undercarriage area.

The planes have undergone exhaustive tests, including fire, wind-tunnel and "gun" tests, the latter involving the firing of debris at mock fuel tanks.

A modified BA Concorde has already made three passenger-less Trans-Atlantic test flights, each time safely reaching its maximum speed of 1,350 MPH (2172 KPH) -- twice the speed of sound.

If the aviation authorities approve the modifications it is possible that an announcement of the resumption of commercial flights could take place as early as next Monday, when the Anglo-French Concorde Working Group, which includes government ministers, is due to meet in Paris.

At last month's working group it was announced that BA would resume passenger flights in September and Air France a month later, although no specific dates were mentioned.

• British Airways
• Air France
• Concorde
• Civil Aviation Authority

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