2002-11-09 / Front Page

Fourth Engine Failure In Year Aborts Concorde Flight

By Howard Schwach

By Howard Schwach

Approximately an hour after an Air France Concorde departed John F. Kennedy Airport on Runway 31 Left and flew right over the Rockaway peninsula, the aircraft lost an engine and plunged 10,000 feet before its pilots could regain control.

According to officials of Air France, the flight was over the Atlantic, nearly half-way between New York City and Paris on November 4, when one of the aircraft’s four engines flamed out.

"According to a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) report, passengers on the plane reported that the speed of the descent sent crockery smashing into the aisles and set off a panic on the plane.

"We heard a loud bump," one of the passengers told the BBC. "There was a lot of shaking for about a quarter of an hour. Women were crying and children were screaming," the passenger reported.

"I had the fright of my life," he concluded.

This was the fourth reported incident of engine failure in a Concorde since it came back to full operations in July of last year. Concorde flights had been grounded after a deadly failure two years ago.

On November 18 of last year, shortly after the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 into Belle Harbor, a British Airways Concorde was forced to abort its takeoff from London’s Heathrow Airport because of an engine problem.

On March 15 of this year, a British Airways Concorde departing Heathrow, filled with guests for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City and with guests for Liza Minelli’s wedding, was forced to abort its takeoff when a computer glitch caused its engines to over-accelerate.

On July 15 of this year, a British Airways Concorde on the way from London to New York had to abort its flight an hour into the flight when one of the plane’s four engines experienced an engine surge.

In addition, the FAA and the NTSB are looking into reports of a Concorde that came dangerously low over Rockaway a few months ago. At first, both the agency and the airline said that the event never happened, but both now admit that those who saw the plane as it flew very low over the peninsula, setting off car alarms and cracking plaster in local homes, were not hallucinating.

After the fatal accident and the grounding of the supersonic aircraft, many locals worked to permanently ground the plane.

According to officials of the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA), however, only the nation whose flag the plane flies has the right to decertify an aircraft. Neither England nor France are ready to do that, although both nations heavily subsidize the aircraft’s operations.

"If we stop the Concorde from flying to JFK, either England or France can stop one of our aircraft from flying to that nation," an FAA spokesperson told The Wave at that time. "We are not ready to do that."

Congressman Anthony Weiner has been working to ground the Concorde since its fatal crash.

"I would like nothing better than to ground the Concorde," Weiner told the audience at a meeting last week. "It is exempt from all of the flight rules and it should be grounded."

"What more has to happen before the Concorde Jet is taken out of the air," the Congressman asked. "The Concorde is old, loud, and unreliable and it is long time past to take away its wings."

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