RETURN TO FLIGHT

Archive Story : 3/1/01

BRITISH AIRWAYS PROGRESSING WITH MODIFICATIONS AND TESTING

With the start of 2001 British Airways is progressing with it's plans for modifications and test flights. A British Airways Concorde hs been undergoing ground tests at the BA maintenence base at Heathrow including engine tests in the engine test rig where all Aircraft sytems are tested. The visor can be seen lowered (although the nose is still raised) in the picture indicating the the hydraulic systems has also been run up to speed. G-BOAC can be seen in the background.

Both British Airways and Air France would have expressed their wish to bring the aircraft back to air. And BA urged the need to modify at least 3 of its aircraft before 28 March, in order to restart the LHR-JFK route for the summer season. BA have selected their aircraft with the lowest hours for this puropse with the others including G-BOAA, and G-BOAB being sealed up for longer term storage as can be seen in the pictures.

Since the last Working party meeting in November, investigation work focused on four points:

The top priority would be to prevent the fuel from escaping quickly, so that any further incident couldn't lead to any major inflammation. Contrary to what was reported earlier, no pure kevlar would be added, but rather supple and elastic materials.

This upgrade will featured on a BA aircraft in the days to come, with tests scheduled for February. These tests aim at verifying that the upgrades won't interfere in the fuel system and the general autonomy of the airplane.

Regarding the origin of the fire, the truth would most likely never be known, as 15 solutions are still considered as possible today. However the aircraft manufacturer advised to protect Concorde from the possible short-cuts with the electric system of the landing gear. An armour or automatic cutting system would be used. One of the possible causes is the tyre bust damaged a 1125V AC cable to the Carbon Brake disk ooling fans which thus sparked causing the ingintion of the fast escaping fuel.

As far as the problem with the main left gear is concerned, it is unsure whether the crew was unable to retract it because of a failure on the hydraulic system, or because the door was damaged by the impact.

The loss of thrust experienced on engines nbr. 1 and 2 (before the nbr. 2 was shut down) remained unexplained; the small pieces of tyre found would be too small to have caused any substantial damage to the engines leading the the catastrophic loss of thrust. thr invetigators have concluded that there was no sign of engine fire and that the loss of thrust may have resulted rom yaw owing to asymmetric power, low speed and the failure of thre gear to retract. An Air France Concorde would perform tests at the Centre d'essais d'Istres by mid-January. The tests would consist in the ignition of fuel in the engines to see if the thrust may decrease. The modification of the 12 remaining Concorde would only involve the strengthening of the intrados, in the end. But British sources suggest a cost of about 15 million FF (2.2 million Euros) per aircraft.

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