CONCORDE REPORT REVISES DETAILS, FOCUSES ON RUNWAY DEBRIS. . On Friday, France's Air Accident Investigation Bureau (BEA) released an interim report on the July 25 Concorde crash that killed 113 people, and in it, comes very close to laying the largest chunk of blame on Houston- based Continental Airlines. French investigators confirm in the report that a thin metal strip suspected of setting off the Concorde's fatal chain of events fell from a DC-10 that had taken off from Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport five minutes before the Concorde took the runway. The only DC-10 that took off in the moments preceding the Concorde belonged to Continental Airlines. BEA experts who examined the plane believe the strip fell from the cowling of a fan reverser....
INVESTIGATORS QUESTION CONTINENTAL AIRLINES' MAINTENANCE... The BEA report listed several concerns about wear marks on the strip and missing rivets. "Various questions" about maintenance on the plane had yet to be answered, it said. Continental was quick to respond with a curt, "We disagree with any conclusion that this interim report brings Continental's maintenance procedures into question." ...
NOT A PUNCTURE, BUT "SHOCK WAVE" CAUSED FUEL LEAK... Investigators now say "new details" have led them to change their thinking on what brought the plane down. For months, the belief has been that a tire, shredded by the piece of metal, flung high-speed debris that punctured the left fuel tank. The bureau now believes debris from a tire struck the tank and created shock waves within the tank that tore it open. Just two minutes after takeoff, the burning Concorde smashed into a hotel, killing all 109 on board and four people on the ground. ..
OTHER CONCORDE CLOSE CALLS LISTED Though the vultures are circling over Houston-based Continental, and Air France has already filed a suit against the company, the obvious question is whether a burst tire should cause a plane to crash. Continental reiterated that belief Friday, saying that the July crash points to a design flaw in the Concorde. The BEA report notes that British and French Concordes have suffered 57 burst or deflated tires since entering service in 1976. In 12 of those cases, the problem led to structural damage to the wings and on six occasions, a fuel tank was penetrated. British officials are expected to begin tests next month on a fuel-tank liner designed to reduce the chance of fire. In the meantime, the Concordes remain grounded, and the BEA works to finish a report that it says is months from completion.