October 2001 Issue

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The Concorde was brought down by a failed tire, but there’s much more where the rubber meets the road

[IMGCAP(1)] When the magnificent Concorde thundered down runway 26R at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport in July 2000, it became one of the most scrutinized airplane accidents on record. After a spectacular display of flaming fuel, the aircraft climbed to about 200 feet agl, pitched up, rolled inverted and crashed. All 100 passengers, six flight attendants and three cockpit crew members were killed, along with five people on the ground.

Aircraft accident investigators often refer to the “chain of errors,” preventing any one of which would stop the accident from happening. The Concorde mishap is perhaps an all-time classic in this regard, since there was a clear indication that there were...

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