18 Years ago today: On 25 July 2000 an Air France Concorde crashed near Paris; killing all 109 on board and 4 people on the ground.

Date:Tuesday 25 July 2000
Type: Aérospatiale / BAC Concorde 101
Operator:Air France
C/n / msn:203
First flight:1975
Total airframe hrs:11989
Engines:Rolls-Royce Olympus 593/610
Crew:Fatalities: 9 / Occupants: 9
Passengers:Fatalities: 100 / Occupants: 100
Total:Fatalities: 109 / Occupants: 109
Ground casualties:Fatalities: 4
Aircraft damage:Destroyed
Aircraft fate:Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Gonesse (   France)
Phase:En route (ENR)
Nature:Int’l Non Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG/LFPG), France
Destination airport:New York-John F. Kennedy International Airport, NY (JFK/KJFK), United States of America

The Air France Concorde, registered F-BTSC, was to depart Paris-Charles de Gaulle for a flight (4590) to New York-JFK. Departure was delayed by about one hour because the crew had requested a replacement of the thrust reverser pneumatic motor of the no. 2 engine. Also, the rear bogie truck of the left hand main undercarriage was replaced. When all 100 passengers had boarded, the plane taxied to runway 26R (4217 m long). Takeoff weight was calculated to be 186,9 tons, including 95 tons of fuel, which was one tone over the maximum takeoff weight. At 14:42:17 the crew were cleared for takeoff.
At 14:42:31, the captain commenced takeoff. At 14:42:54.6, the co-pilot called one hundred knots, then V1 nine seconds later. A few seconds after that, tyre No 2 (right front) on the left main landing gear was destroyed after having run over a strip of metal lost by a Continental Airlines DC-10-30, registered N13067 which departed Paris as flight 055 to Newark five minutes before. The destruction of the tyre in all probability resulted in large pieces of rubber being thrown against the underside of the left wing and the rupture of a part of tank 5. A severe fire broke out under the left wing and around the same time engines 1 and 2 suffered a loss of thrust, severe for engine 2, slight for engine 1. By 14:43:13, as the captain commenced the rotation, the controller informed the crew the presence of flames behind the aircraft. The co-pilot acknowledged this transmission and the flight engineer announced the failure of engine no. 2. Nine seconds later the engine fire alarm sounded and the flight engineer announced “shut down engine 2” then the captain called for the “engine fire” procedure. A few seconds later, the engine 2 fire handle was pulled and the fire alarm stopped. The co-pilot drew the captain’s attention to the airspeed, which was 200 kt. At 14:43:30, the captain called for landing gear retraction. The controller confirmed the presence of large flames behind the aircraft. Twelve seconds later the engine fire alarm sounded again for around 12 seconds. It sounded for the third time at about 14:43:58 and continued until the end of the flight. At 14:43:56, the co-pilot commented that the landing gear had not retracted and made several callouts in relation to the airspeed. Three seconds later, the GPWS alarm sounded several times. The co-pilot informed ATC that they were trying for Le Bourget aerodrome. Then the number 1 engine lost power as well. The aircraft entered a left turn until control was lost, crashing into hotel ‘Hotellisimo’ and bursting into flames.
Probable Cause:


– High-speed passage of a tyre over a part lost by an aircraft that had taken off five
minutes earlier and the destruction of the tyre.
– The ripping out of a large piece of tank in a complex process of transmission of the
energy produced by the impact of a piece of tyre at another point on the tank, this
transmission associating deformation of the tank skin and the movement of the
fuel, with perhaps the contributory effect of other more minor shocks and /or a
hydrodynamic pressure surge.
– Ignition of the leaking fuel by an electric arc in the landing gear bay or through
contact with the hot parts of the engine with forward propagation of the flame
causing a very large fire under the aircraft™s wing and severe loss of thrust on
engine 2 then engine 1.

In addition, the impossibility of retracting the landing gear probably contributed to the
retention and stabilisation of the flame throughout the flight.