Progress with safety tests and aircraft modification suggests that the British Aerospace/Aerospatiale Concorde could be flying passengers again by September. Although British Airways is reluctant to promise service dates yet, it confirms that all planned safety tests should be complete by early June.

BA's technical and quality director Jim O'Sullivan says the return to service date depends not only on test completion, but on the results of final data analysis, which could be complete by late July unless it reveals the need for further work. If there are no problems, manufacturers BAE Systems and EADS will present the integrated results and the programme of modification work to aviation authorities in the UK and France for approval.

The two completed tests were performed by an Air France Concorde, on vapour distribution during the take-off run with a fuel leak under the wing, and on new Michelin radial tyres. Flight test of a BA Concorde fitted with the Kevlar fuel tank liners will take place in early June, O'Sullivan predicts. The remaining tests now in their final stages include:

"gun tests" at EADS Toulouse, where debris is fired at mock fuel tanks to analyse the results; engine fuel ingestion tests by Rolls-Royce at Shoeburyness, south-east England; fire tests on the undercarriage at Warton, north-west England.

Source: Flight International