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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sadness over Concorde

Buried away in the news today was the story that a French prosecutor is calling for Continental Airlines to go on trial over allegations that a piece of debris on the runway from a Continental plane caused the Concorde accident in Paris that resulted in 113 deaths.

The accident, back in 2000, resulted in all the Concordes being grounded for safety tests, And shortly afterwards, the British Airways Concordes were unexpectedly retired in 2003.

It was always one of my biggest regrets that I never flew on Concorde. It was such an amazing -and moving - sight in the sky, even if it was apparently quite cramped on board. I'll never forget the sight of Concorde leading the Red Arrows in the fly past for the Queen's golden jubilee in 2002.

It seems so sad to me that Britain, France and other European countries collaborated on this wonderful aviation breakthrough (and showed what can be achieved in Europe when we all work together), the era of supersonic air travel was born, but then it dies and there is nothing to replace it. Those lummocky great planes that hold hundreds of people hold little appeal for me. They just mean more room for the people who turn left, and more shoehorning-in of the unfortunates who turn right.

It's a tragic epitaph to Concorde that its demise was effectively caused by a piece of debris from another aircraft. Nothing to do with the safety of the plane, which was widely discussed at the time and has probably left his reputation tarnished.

Maybe oneday I will get to see Concorde - albeit grounded - at the special museum hangar created in Manchester.

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