Geoff Thomas

A day after the tragic crash of Air France Concorde, flight AF4590, near Paris and things at Farnborough soon returned to normal. True, the crash was a frequent topic of conversation and press and PR staff at EADS, BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce and Snecma got tired of saying that they couldn't say anything but essentially it was a case of life carrying on.

Rumours about the cause of the accident spread rapidly around the halls and chalets fed by odd comments and reports on radio, TV and the internet.

Reports that the Air France captain had requested that the thrust reverser on No 2 engine should be changed just before take-off reinforced the theory that it was a catastrophic fire in that engine or at least on the left wing that contributed to the outcome of the brief and well-documented flight.


An Air France spokesman said: "After the aircraft returned from JFK airport in New York on 24 July [the day before the accident] it became apparent that the thrust reverser on engine two of the Concorde wasn't working. "A replacement to make the repair wasn't available, although the plane could have left without the repairs, in line with practices authorised by the makers."

But, seeing the flight was full, the captain requested the non-functioning piece was replaced before departure. "The piece was immediately taken from a Concorde in reserve. The job took 30 minutes and the aircraft began to taxi down the runway at 16.31 one hour and six minutes late."

The cockpit voice recorder transcript or parts of it have gradually been released during the day by public prosecutor Elisabeth Senot who is in charge of the judicial investigation.


She said that the control tower alerted the pilot that the back of his aircraft was on fire 56 seconds after take-off. The pilot apparently responded by saying that he had engine trouble although some reports claim that he unaccountably reported that his problem was with engines _3 and 4 on the right wing.

The pilot reported that he was trying to reach Le Bourget airport nearby and says Senot it was during this manoeuvre that the aircraft crashed in Gonesse.

It seems probable that the catastrophic fire began either during the take-off run or immediately afterwards at least when the aircraft had reached a speed when continuing with the flight was the only option.

Source: Flight Daily News