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Concorde Engine Trouble Stirs Panic

November 6, 2002

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PARIS (AP) _ An Air France Concorde had engine trouble during a flight from New York to Paris Monday, causing the jet to lose 27,000 feet in altitude as passengers gripped each other in fear, the airline and passengers said Tuesday.

Air France said that one of the supersonic jet’s four engines broke down over the Atlantic and the pilot continued the flight using the three remaining engines.

None of the 67 passengers on board was injured and the flight arrived safely at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport, said an Air France official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The cause of the engine trouble was not immediately known.

The incident came nearly two and a half years after an Air France Concorde crashed shortly after takeoff from Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport. All 109 people on board were killed, along with four on the ground.

An investigation concluded that the Concorde crashed after a tire was punctured by a stray metal strip on the runway, propelling pieces of rubber into the fuel tank and igniting a fire.

The plane was flying at 60,000 feet before dropping to 33,000 feet, the official said.

A passenger on the flight, Amar Belgacem, said the plane plunged fast and passengers panicked.

``All the plates, glasses, all the food crashed to the ground,″ Belgacem told France-2 television. ``We grabbed onto our neighbors ... everyone was saying prayers. I had the fright of my life.″

Air France and British Airways, the only airlines that operate the jet, grounded their fleets and revamped the planes to address safety concerns. The luxury aircraft was returned to service in November 2001.

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