25 July 2000: On Tuesday afternoon at 14:42 UTC (16:42 local time), Air France Flight 4590, an Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde, F-BTSC, began its takeoff from Paris Charles de Gaulle on a chartered flight to New York City. The airliner had a flight crew of three and cabin crew of six. There were 100 passengers on board.
During takeoff from runway 26 right at Roissy Charles de Gaulle Airport, shortly before rotation, the front right tyre of the left landing gear was damaged and pieces of the tyre were thrown against the aircraft structure. A major fire broke out under the left wing. Problems appeared shortly afterwards on engine N° 2 and for a brief period on engine N° 1. The aircraft was neither able to climb nor accelerate. The crew found that the landing gear would not retract. The aircraft maintained a speed of 200 kt and a radio altitude of 200 feet for about one minute. Engine n° 1 then stopped. The aircraft crashed onto a hotel at La Patte d¹Oie in Gonesse.
—English translation, Summary, Preliminary Accident Report, Bureau Enquêtes-Accidents
The final report stated:
3.2 Probable Causes
The accident was due to the following causes:
• High-speed passage of a tyre over a part lost by an aircraft that had taken off five
minutes earlier and the destruction of the tyre.
• The ripping out of a large piece of tank in a complex process of transmission of the
energy produced by the impact of a piece of tyre at another point on the tank, this
transmission associating deformation of the tank skin and the movement of the
fuel, with perhaps the contributory effect of other more minor shocks and /or a
hydrodynamic pressure surge.
• Ignition of the leaking fuel by an electric arc in the landing gear bay or through
contact with the hot parts of the engine with forward propagation of the flame
causing a very large fire under the aircraft’s wing and severe loss of thrust on
engine 2 then engine 1.
In addition, the impossibility of retracting the landing gear probably contributed to the
retention and stabilisation of the flame throughout the flight.
— Accident on 25 July 2000 at La Patte d’Oie in Gonesse (95) to the Concorde Registered F-BTSC operated by Air France, Bureau Enquêtes-Accidents, Report Translation f-sc000725a, at Page 176
All 109 persons aboard the airliner and another 4 person on the ground were killed. 1 person was injured.
Accident investigators concluded that the Concorde had run over a metal strip on the runway which had fallen off of a Continental Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-10, N13067, which had taken off from that runway a few minutes previously. The strip damaged the Concorde’s tire and caused it to fail.
Because the Concorde was vulnerable to a catastrophic accident resulting from such a minor issue as a failed tire, the fleet’s airworthiness certifications were suspended.
F-BTSC had first flown 31 January 1975. At the time of the accident, it had flown 11,989 hours and 4873 cycles.
The production Concorde 100 was 202 feet, 4 inches (61.67 meters) long with a wingspan of 83 feet, 10 inches (25.55 meters) and overall height, and overall height of 40 feet, 0 inches. (12.19 meters). The series had an empty weight of 173,500 pounds (78,698 kilograms), MTOW 408,000 pounds (185,066 kilograms). F-BTSC was the heaviest airplane in the Concorde fleet, with a basic weight of 81,560 kilograms (179,809 pounds). Its takeoff weight on 25 July was 186,251 kilograms (410,613 pounds).
The Concorde was powered by four Rolls-Royce/SNECMA Olympus 593 Mk.610 engines. The Mk. 610 is a two-spool, axial-flow turbojet with afterburner. The compressor section as 14 stages (7 low- and 7 high-pressure stages). Two-stage turbine has 1 high- and 1 low-pressure stage. The engine has a maximum continuous power rating of 28,800 pounds of thrust (128.11 kilonewtons). It is rated at 37,080 pounds (164.94 kilonewtons) for takeoff (5 minute limit). During takeoff, the afterburners produce approximately 20% of the total thrust. The Olympus 593 Mk.613 is 1.212 meters (3.976378 feet) in diameter, 4.039 meters (13.251312 feet)long, and weighs 3,175 kilograms (7,000 pounds).
Production Concordes were certified for a maximum operating cruise speed of Mach 2.04, and a maximum operating altitude of 60,000 feet (18.288 meters). The maximum range 3,900 was nautical miles (4,488 statute miles/7,223 kilometers).
© 2020, Bryan R. Swopes
3 thoughts on “25 July 2000”
Thanks fir the post. Sad day for aviation and this wonderfull aircraft . Thanks to huge effort from BA, AF and Airbus Concorde return to service one year later.
website concordesst.com gives a lot of details of this story
I was under the impression that the debris damage was ruled out. Didn’t evidence show that fire was visible before the aircraft got to the point on the runway where it ran over the debris?
John, I should have updated the article with the Probable Cause described in the final Bureau Enquêtes-Accidents report (which I have now done). The Probable Cause was the “High-speed passage of a tyre running over a part lost by an aircraft that had taken off five minutes earlier and the destruction of the tyre.”
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