RETURN TO FLIGHT

Archive Story : 17-07-01

FIRST VERIFICATION FLIGHT COMPLETED

British Airways Concorde has successfully completed its first flight since the planes were grounded after last year's Paris crash. The supersonic jet returned to RAF Brize Norton at 5.41pm, completing a crucial test flight which took it from Heathrow Airport and out towards Iceland.

It was almost a year to the day since the catastrophic crash that killed 113 people. BA hopes to start flying passengers again later this summer.

Captain Mike Bannister was delighted: "It was absolutely fantastic to get back behind the controls. I have been flying Concorde for 22 years but this was the best flight ever. "The initial reaction is that the aircraft performed brilliantly. I have great professional pride in being allowed to fly this wonderful plane."

BA chief executive Rod Eddington said: "After many hours of work by our engineering team it's good to have the aircraft flying again. This is an important day for everyone.

The flight took a little more than 3hrs 20mins at speeds of 1,350mph, about twice the speed of sound. It was the first time Concorde had flown supersonic since the summer of 2000. The flight took roughly the same time as a trip from Heathrow to New York. Civil Aviation Authority chief test pilot Jock Reid was alos present in the cockpit. A team of engineers from BA and plane-making company Airbus UK were also on board.

Previous test flights have focused on the take-off and landing of the aircraft. The flight reviewed various changes made to both the BA and Air France Concorde fleet, since last July's Air France crash near Paris.

The aircraft will remain at Brize Norton for the next few day will ground tests are carried out before it returns to the BA Concorde base at Heathrow.

Full details and pictures are available in the BA tests section

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