Fourth Concorde scare hits BA

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The Independent Online

British Airways had to admit yesterday to its fourth Concorde scare in as many days as it revealed that 33 passengers had to take off in a back-up plane after their original craft was taken out of service.

British Airways had to admit yesterday to its fourth Concorde scare in as many days as it revealed that 33 passengers had to take off in a back-up plane after their original craft was taken out of service.

They took off more than two hours late from Heathrow in a back-up Concorde after the plane they had been scheduled to fly to New York in was taken out of service for further adjustments to engine work that had already been carried out at the weekend.

The work had been necessary after the plane had "backfired", due to a mix of air and fuel in the engine, on a flight from New York to Heathrow on Saturday night, a spokeswoman said. The airline would not say what the adjustments were, but the spokeswoman added: "We are being exceptionally vigilant at the moment and it is not an unusual event to use a back-up Concorde in these circumstances."

The incident follows three problems with BA Concordes in recent days - the last of which involved a London-New York flight on Sunday evening which had to land at Gander in Newfoundland after passengers said they could smell fuel.

Yesterday's problems came as it was also announced that Air France's supersonic fleet could be grounded indefinitely following last Tuesday's crash.

France's civil aviation authority, the GDAC, said the sequence of events that led to last week's crash near Paris had yet to be determined. It added that experts have not decided what extra safety measures are needed.

Investigators have said it could take 18 months to find out what caused the plane to crash minutes after take off. They believe one or two of the Concorde's tyres exploded and one of the aircraft's engines shut down, followed by the shutdown of another engine. There was also evidence of a fuel leak that caused the fire.

* The home of a wealthy German couple killed in last week's Concorde crash was broken into days after they were identified in media reports, police said yesterday.

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