Archive Story : 09-08-01

Air France completing mods on 1st aircraft

Air France this week is expected to finish the modifications on its first Concorde and hopes to resume commercial service by October if the safety authorities deem the plane airworthy in the next two months, according to CEO Jean-Cyril Spinetta.

The carrier is within days of completing the installation of the Kevlar rubber liners inside the fuel tanks on one of its Concordes as well as the strengthened wire shielding at the landing gear and inside the wings.CEO Spinetta told an Italian newspaper last week that the carrier also is on track to complete the modifications on a second Concorde by the end of August as it attempts to remain on track with the same work at British Airways.

Air France then plans to complete some test flights similar to those recently flown by BA, but the dates have not been released. Spinetta describe the Concorde retrofits as a "very difficult job" in terms of the time, labor and complexity involved, but he notes that it is "not very costly."

BA is expected to modify three of its Concordes before starting daily New York Kennedy flights, which it hopes to launch in September. Air France also will likely have to modify three of its planes before its Paris-JFK service starts. If the aircraft is approved to fly in the next six to eight weeks, "we will be ready to resume the operations in October." If Concorde does fly again, Spinetta is confident that "our customers will be there when we resume the operations."