Concorde 'in the air by summer'

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Concorde must be back in the air by summer at the latest, British Airways and Air France told an Anglo-French meeting yesterday.

Concorde must be back in the air by summer at the latest, British Airways and Air France told an Anglo-French meeting yesterday.

Officials from both countries blamed the French judiciary for holding up the investigation into the disaster, in which one of the supersonic aircraft crashed near Paris in July, killing 113 people.

While a diplomatically worded statement after yesterday's talks expressed concern that "any impediments" to the inquiry be removed, sources said the language in private was more robust. One official said: "The French judiciary ... works at its own pace and wants to make sure its procedures are beyond reproach. If the circumstances were not so tragic the whole thing would be reminiscent of a French farce."

Under French law air accidents are investigated by technical experts and the judiciary at the same time, with the legal process taking precedence.

A source at the meeting said investigators had to apply for the release of each piece of the crashed plane before they could reconstruct it. He said: "The judges are simply hanging on to the evidence."

Both the British and French airlines said they were anxious to see Concorde flying again as soon as possible. They are understood to want a plan to recertify to be it in place by the end of the year. The source said: "They then want to work though that process ... and have the plane in the air by the summer at the latest."

BA managers fear it would not be economically viable to wait any longer, because of the necessity of maintaining Concorde crews and facilities.

The working group confirmed "its continuing resolution to finding a solution to allow Concorde to fly again".

The next meeting of the group is to be in Paris on 13 November.

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