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Concorde on Final Training Flight

October 29, 2001

PARIS (AP) _ An Air France Concorde headed from Paris to New York on Monday for a final training flight, the airline’s first such flight since its supersonic jets were grounded last year after a crash that killed 113 people.

British Airways, the only other airline to offer Concorde service, completed its first trans-Atlantic test flight, from London to New York, on Oct. 22.

The Air France Concorde left Charles de Gaulle airport for a final flight to prepare cabin crews for the jet’s return to commercial service next week.

During test flights since the grounding, the French carrier’s Concordes have flown a loop over part of the Atlantic, but haven’t gone all the way across.

The jet took off at about 10:30 local time carrying 69 passengers _ all Air France employees _ for a three-hour, 55-minute flight to John F. Kennedy airport, a spokeswoman said. It was expected to return to France on Tuesday.

Both British Airways and Air France grounded their fleets following the July 25, 2000, crash. The jet has been revamped to address safety concerns, and civil aviation authorities in both countries cleared its return to the skies.

Air France commercial flights are to resume Nov. 7, while British Airways will run a preview flight for corporate customers and reporters the same day and resume its regular commercial service on Nov. 9.

Investigators studying last year’s crash say a stray strip of metal on the runway punctured one of the jet’s tires, propelling bits of rubber into the fuel tank and starting a fire.

Aviation experts have designed durable new radial tires that would burst into lighter, more flexible fragments if a blowout occurs. They also installed fuel tank liners engineered to prevent leaks if the plane’s wing is ruptured. The liners are made in part with Kevlar _ a fiber used in bulletproof vests.

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