More Problems Plague the Concorde

TIME aviation correspondent Sally B. Donnelly has been following the investigation of last week's Concorde crash near Paris. Here is an update of her report in the current magazine.

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Over the weekend, French investigators examining the crash of the Air France Concorde flight 4590 confirmed that the 100-foot flames that were seen at the back of the stricken plane on takeoff came from "a major fuel leak." They also reported having found parts of a fuel tank on the runway. These discoveries seem to confirm earlier speculation that the fuel tank was punctured by a burst tire or broken wheel (authorities had reported last week that at least one tire had exploded and that tire debris had been found in the takeoff area).

Also over the weekend, the French Transport Ministry said it would chair a meeting of international aviation experts and the two airlines that fly the Concorde (Air France and British Airways). The meeting is expected to result in a decision over the fate of Air France's future Concorde flights, which were suspended indefinitely after the crash.

Meanwhile, two incidents over the weekend affected British Airways Concordes (the English carrier had decided to resume using its supersonic airliners about a day after the Paris accident). The first involved an unplanned stop of a London-to-New York flight when passengers complained of a gasoline-type smell. In London, another Concorde was unable to take off because of a refueling problem. No one was injured in either case.