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4:30pm ET, 4/16


Concorde prepares for test flight

Concorde will undergo a series of ground tests after the flight  

PARIS, France -- An Air France Concorde will take to the skies on Thursday for the first test flight since one of the supersonic aircraft crashed last July.

An aviation source said on Monday that the jet will take off pending final clearance from aviation authorities as part of moves to resume commercial flights.

The Concorde will make a subsonic flight from Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport to Istres, near Marseilles in southern France, where it is set to undergo a series of ground tests.

If the flight gets the green light, as expected, it will be the first take-off of a Concorde from Charles de Gaulle since the crash that killed 113 people.

French Transport Minister Jean-Claude Gayssot said he expected Concorde to resume service in 2001, once tests had shown that the July 25 disaster could not be repeated.

Authorities removed Concorde's right to fly last August after preliminary investigations showed that the doomed plane caught fire and plunged to earth after debris caused underwing fuel tanks to rupture.

The French Air Accident Investigation Bureau (BEA) said in a report on January 5 that a small thin metal strip, which had probably caused the tyre to burst, had come from a Continental Airlines DC 10 plane.

Under clause 141 of the international Civil Aviation Code, airlines are legally responsible for any parts that drop off their aircraft.

The BEA report added that 57 cases of burst tyres had occurred between June 1979 and October 1993, 30 of which happened on Air France Concordes and 27 on British Airways planes.

British Airways, the only other airliner to operate Concorde, will carry out test flights once modifications have been introduced to the fuel tanks and electrical systems.

Reuters contributed to this report.

France set to test fly Concorde
January 12, 2001
Crash inquiry team hopeful for Concorde
January 8, 2001
Concorde fuel tanks burst 'six times'
January 5, 2001
Hopes rise for future of Concorde
December 15, 2000
Concorde will fly again, says French minister
September 6, 2000
British Airways halts Concorde flights following Air France crash
July 25, 2000
Concorde crashes near Paris, killing 113
July 25, 2000

Air France
French Air Accident Investigation Bureau
UK Civil Aviation Authority
British Airways

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