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France Concorde Flight Ban Remains

August 11, 2000

PARIS (AP) _ The French Transportation Ministry said Friday it had decided to keep a ban on Air France Concorde flights, which have been grounded since one of the supersonic jets crashed outside Paris last month.

After aviation experts met at the ministry to review the progress of the investigation, the ministry said uncertainties still remained about the exact sequence of events that led to the crash.

``In these conditions, the ministry ... maintains the suspension of Concorde flights,″ it said.

An Air France Concorde jet crashed in flames shortly after takeoff from the Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris on July 25. All 109 people on board and four on the ground were killed.

Air France’s five remaining Concordes have been grounded since then, although British Airways resumed its Concorde flights the day after the crash.

The Transportation Ministry’s decision comes one day after investigators unveiled their first attempt to link the events that caused the pride of French aviation to crash into a small hotel in the town of Gonesse, north of Paris.

Investigators said Thursday that a strip of metal found on the runway where the jet took off probably punctured a tire on the aircraft, turning the rubber into high-speed projectiles which damaged one or several fuel reservoirs on the left wing, causing a fuel leak and fire.

Investigators originally thought the metal strip was a stray piece on the runway. But the Accident and Inquiry Office said Thursday that although the metal strip ``probably″ did not come off the doomed jet, experts were still not sure.

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