David Learmount/LONDON

Engine failure caused by fuel ingestion is to be tested on a rig as a part of the continuing programme to win back airworthiness certificates (CofA) for the Aerospatiale/British Aerospace Concorde fleet. Rolls-Royce confirms that it will conduct the tests on an R-R/Snecma Olympus 593 engine at Shoeburyness, UK.

British Airways' chief Concorde pilot Capt Mike Bannister points out that in the second interim report from the Bureau Enquêtes-Accidents (BEA), it was made clear that ingestion of fuel from the ruptured wing tank was a prime cause of the loss of power in the No 1 engine in the 25 July 2000 crash.

High-speed taxi tests by an Air France Concorde at Istres, southern France, in late January, have confirmed the behaviour of vapour injected from underwing nozzles, making clear the need to test the rate that fuel can be ingested before engine performance is impaired. Bannister points out that this must be established to validate the effectiveness of the new Kevlar/rubber fuel tank lining, intended to reduce fuel leakage in the event of tank rupture to a rate which does not endanger the aircraft.

BA hopes for test results by early May, says Bannister, but R-R is reluctant to predict a schedule.

Both airlines are acting to ensure that they can get the fleet airborne again when the CofA is returned. BA has received the seats for the long-scheduled cabin refit, and has reopened its refurbished Concorde lounge at London Heathrow. BA pilots have begun to prepare for a test flight designed to confirm that the fuel tank liners have no adverse effects on the aircraft's operation.

Maintenance engineers have revealed that the failure to fit an undercarriage spacer, reported by the BEA after studying the wrecked port gear on the crash aircraft, skews the bogey by up to 3í. Skewing could cause the tyres to heat up, the engineers say. The BEA interim reports have not cited evidence of this.

Source: Flight International