Facebook Twitter

Will Concordes fly again?

France, Britain ‘determined’ to see superjet return to sky

SHARE Will Concordes fly again?

PARIS — France and Britain are determined to get the grounded Concorde back in service and will set up a committee charged with finding a way to return the supersonic jet to the sky, France's transport minister said Friday.

The statement from Jean-Claude Gayssot followed a more than five-hour meeting Thursday in London with his British counterpart and French and British aeronautical authorities.

British Airways has seven Concordes and Air France has five more. But both countries formally withdrew the craft's airworthiness certification this week after investigators said a burst tire was at the origin of a July 25 Air France Concorde crash outside Paris that killed 113 people.

Gayssot's statement said, "The two parties share the same determination to find a solution that will put the Concorde in service in sure conditions."

It was the clearest indication since the crash that both countries want to give a second chance to the elite jetliner that crosses the Atlantic Ocean at twice the speed of sound. Last month's accident was the first in the history of the Concorde's 24 years of commercial flights, but it led to speculation that the needle-nosed aircraft would be forever put to rest.

The statement said a working group was to be created and that it would meet regularly, in London and Paris, to examine the results of the ongoing technical investigation.

Air France grounded its Concorde fleet after the crash, which killed all 109 people on board and four on the ground. British Airways, the only other carrier to fly supersonic commercially, did not suspend flights until Tuesday, when it heard that British and French investigators would recommend suspending the craft's certificate of airworthiness.

The British airline said flights were canceled until at least early September but said it could resume operations on 24-hours notice if it gets the go-ahead. France has said only that safety must be guaranteed before the plane can return to the sky.

Airworthiness certification was withdrawn because of the rapid-fire chain of events that began with a tire blowout and led to engine failure, a punctured fuel tank and fire — a scenario that risks being repeated, according to accident investigators.

Elsewhere Friday, Air France was dealing with threats of lawsuits, saying insurers were in contact with victims' families. The Air France statement followed reports that a German lawyer representing 15 families would seek some $286 million in damages from the state-run carrier.