'Tyre blow-out' sparked Concorde engine fire

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The Independent Online

A tyre blow-out may have sparked the engine fire which caused the Concorde crash, according to air investigators.

A tyre blow-out may have sparked the engine fire which caused the Concorde crash, according to air investigators.

The Air France jet crashed on Tuesday, killing 113 people. France's transport ministry has been releasing small details from the crash, including a statement yesterday that the plane was breaking up as it roared down the runway at Charles de Gaulle airport.

In the latest statement, the transport ministry said: "The origin of the fire seems to have been outside the engines. It remains to be determined."

The brief statement provided no further details on what outside source could have caused the fire, and seemed to raise more questions than it answered. It also said one and perhaps two wheels of the landing gear on the left side had been destroyed. There has been speculation that debris from the tyres somehow flew into the engine.

Meanwhile, Air France re-affirmed that its Concorde supersonic jets would remain grounded until further notice as the company prepared to hold its own private tribute to the crew and victims of the crash.

It was unclear just when Air France would start up its Concorde flights again. British Airways already has resumed its flights from London to New York, but the French Transport Minister, Jean-Claude Gayssot, said earlier this week that France didn't want to take any risks.

In an earlier development, a French prosecutor promised a swift probe to decide whether to lay criminal charges in connection with the crash as new reports of a chain of mechanical problems continued to trickle out.

Xavier Salvat, prosecutor for the Val d'Oise region where the luxury supersonic jet went down in flames said he had taken the rare step of appointing three investigative magistrates, rather than just one, because the investigation promises to be complex.

Witnesses can be called to testify. The probe will set out to decide who, if anyone, should be charged with involuntary homicide and involuntary injury. >

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