The obvious candidate for immediate fast luxury air transport is the Bombardier Global Express which can cross the Atlantic at Mach 0.88, shaving at least an hour off the fastest non-supersonic commercial flight. Cessna's Citation X, which at Mach 0.9 is the fastest commercial aircraft after Concorde, would cost $2 million for a one-eighth share. Global Express will become part of a fractional ownership fleet next year and will cost around $5 million for the same share, as will the Gulfstream V and Boeing's BBJ, all of which can be seen on the Farnborough static park.

Until last night's crash of flight AF 4590, Concorde had been considered among the world's safest airliners. Immediately after the crash British Airways cancelled last night's two Concorde flights to and from the USA. Early speculation focused on flames coming from the port engine of the airplane. A Federal Express pilot was reported to have seen the crash. He told CNN that the aircraft was struggling to climb and was unable to gain sufficient altitude.


"He [the pilot] kept raising the nose and the aircraft stalled. The nose went straight up in the air and the airplane actually rolled over to the left and was almost inverted when it went down in a huge fireball and hit the ground."

The pilot, Sid Hare, who was staying at a nearby hotel, said the engines of the supersonic jet were racing two or three times louder than normal and smoke was trailing from the back.

"It was a huge fireball, like a mini atomic bomb," he said. "One of the plane's four engines had obviously had a catastrophic failure."

It was trailing flames 200-300ft behind. "My thought is that one engine failed on take-off and damaged the one next to it."

There was no comment last night from Rolls-Royce. The company was still establishing the facts and would probably make a statement today. Industry experts were last night saying that TV footage indicated an uncontained catastrophic engine failure.

Concorde's original test pilot Brian Trubshaw is due at Farnborough today to promote his book Concorde: the Inside Story. "EADS and BAE Systems regret that a Concorde operated by Air France was involved in an accident shortly after take-off," the company said in a statement, adding its condolences with families and friends of those affected.

Source: Flight Daily News