The Story of Air France 4590
July 25th, in the year 2000, Air France flight 4590 was an Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde, registered as F-BTSC, getting ready for its charter service to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. Most of the 100 passengers on board were German tourists who would later continue to South America - if they had actually made it.
It was a relatively busy afternoon, controllers and pilots working hand-in-hand to keep a steady flow of traffic, but nobody could predict the tragedy that would follow shortly. During the takeoff roll, the 25 year-old aircraft ran over a small piece of metallic FOD (Foreign Object Debris). This wasn’t just any metal, however, it was a piece of engine-cowling that had fallen off of an Eastern Airlines Douglas DC-10 that was headed to Newark - the flight was operated by Continental Airlines. The metal debris on the runway caused the tire to burst, which led to the tire debris launching upwards to the fuel tanks at 140 metres per second! The initial impact wasn’t the problem, but the shockwave from the hit managed to rupture the number 5 fuel tank.
The aircraft only managed to sustain flight a couple of seconds after departure, before stalling into a hotel. The crash killed a total of 113 people: 100 passengers, 9 crew members, and 4 bystanders on the ground.
The crash forced all Concorde aircraft to be grounded until November 2001, when they were allowed to resume commercial service again. Despite the legendary status and everlasting impression, the Concorde wasn’t immortal to the change in airline’s demands. The aircraft continued service until its final flight with British Airways in October of 2003.
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