Julian Moxon/PARIS

The French transport ministry is maintaining its ban on Concorde flights by Air France, citing "continuing uncertainties" about the cause of the crash at Gonesse, Paris, on 25 July.

A 400mm-long unidentified metal object found on the runway has been linked by the French accident bureau (BEA) to the rupture found on a tyre destroyed during take-off. The BEA says the rupture projected "large chunks of debris, one weighing over 4kg [9lb], at high energy while the aircraft was travelling at around 170kt [315km/h]".

The transport ministry accepts the BEA's findings that the "initial cause of the accident was the destruction of the inside front tyre of the left landing gear leading to an extremely rapid and catastrophic sequence of events". It adds, however, that "uncertainties persist about the sequence" as well as "the source and relevance of the fire". Questions also remain as to why the No2 engine failed during the take-off and No1 suffered a temporary loss of power followed by failure. The BEA says it is "convinced the engines were not the origin of the accident", but adds that their failure was "a consequence of major importance".

The origin of the piece of metal found on the runway is unknown. The BEA is unable to confirm that it did not come from the aircraft. Tests on the metal composition continue, while airlines which used the runway prior to the Concorde are being contacted.

Aeroports de Paris says it is not changing its policy on runway inspections, carried out four times a day. New York JFK operator, the Port Authority of New York says it is "awaiting the outcome of the investigation" before taking any action, while Heathrow airport operator BAA has not changed its five times daily inspections.

Source: Flight International