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Air France Concorde lands in NY

Air France
An Air France Concorde leaves Charles de Gaulle for New York  

PARIS, France -- An Air France Concorde has flown from Paris to New York for the first time since last year's disaster.

The supersonic airliner left Charles de Gaulle airport at 10:44 a.m. (0944 GMT), 14 minutes behind schedule, with 65 passengers on board.

It landed at New York's John F. Kennedy airport on time at 8:25 a.m. (1325 GMT) after an uneventful journey, Air France said.

The passengers, all Air France staff, checked in as if they were regular passengers for the three-hour, 55 minute, test flight with speeds of up to 2,200 k.p.h. (1,370 m.p.h) expected.

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Timeline: A brief history of the Concorde 
Key safety modifications
-Installation of Kevlar-rubber fuel tank liners. These are designed to minimise fuel leaks in event of wing-skin being punctured
-Use of newly developed Michelin Near Zero Growth tyres on all eight main wheels. These are tougher and more resistant to damage
-Electrical wiring in the plane's undercarriage bay will have armour-plated insulation

The plane is to return to Paris from JFK on Tuesday.

Both British Airways and Air France, the only airlines to fly Concordes, suspended operations to carry out multi-million pound refits after an Air France Concorde burst into flames on take-off from Paris in July 2000, killing 113 people on board and on the ground.

Investigators studying last year's crash say a stray strip of metal on the runway is believed to have burst one of the jet's tyres, propelling bits of rubber into the fuel tank and sparking a fire.

Aviation experts have designed durable new radial tyres that would burst into lighter, more flexible fragments if a blowout occurs.

They also installed fuel tank liners engineered to prevent leaks if the plane's wing is ruptured. The liners are made in part with Kevlar -- a fibre used in bulletproof vests.

The latest flight is a dress-rehearsal for next week's resumption of scheduled flights. Civil aviation authorities in both countries have cleared its return to the skies.

During test flights since the grounding, French Concordes have flown a loop over part of the Atlantic, but have not made the complete journey to the U.S..

A British Airways Concorde also made a trans-Atlantic flight last week that "went very well," a company spokesman said.

Both operators announced last month that commercial services would resume next week following safety modifications that include lining fuel tanks with bullet-proof kevlar.

Air France commercial flights are to resume November 7, while British Airways will run a preview flight for corporate customers and reporters the same day and resume its regular commercial service on November 9.


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

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