F-BTSC. Aerospatiale Concorde 101. c/n 203.

 

This aircraft was built by built by Societe Nationale Industrielle Aerospatiale, (Aerospatiale), Toulouse, France. It was entered onto the French Aircraft Register as F-WTSC and registered to Aerospatiale.

It flew for the time from Toulouse on January 31, 1975. Its registration was changed to F-BTSC on May 26, 1975 and was used in various route proving flights during the year. It was leased to Compagnie Nationale Air France on January 6, 1976 but returned to Aerospatiale on December 8, 1976.

F-BTSC took part in a Middle East sales tour in 1977 where an interest to purchase Concordes was shown by Iran Air, but nothing eventuated. Following this tour the aircraft was placed in storage at Toulouse. This aircraft's first claim to fame took place in 1978 - 1979 when it was used in the movie 'Airport 79 - The Concorde'. It was returned to service with Air France on June 11, 1979.

F-BTSC had been converted to Concorde Type 101 by June 1980. It was then purchased by and registered to Air France (for the price of one Franc) on October 23, 1980.

F-BTSC was originally constructed as a model 100 that would have been converted to a model 103 for Pan American. It was the heaviest Concorde of all in Air France fleet. It was slightly less than one ton heavier and two years older than the lighter and youngest of the airline's Concodes - F-BTSD (Aircraft number 213).

Following a decline in passengers this aircraft was withdrawn from use and stored by Air France on November 1, 1982 who were at that time only operating only 7 flights a week to New York.

F-BTSC re-entered service with Air France to cover engineering checks being carried out on the other Air France Concordes on April 28, 1986. On May 2, 1989 F-BTSC carried His Holiness, Pope John Paul II.

F-BTSC underwent a 'D' Check between June 1998 and November 1999, during which the keel beam was replaced due to corrosion at a cost of some £4 million. This check involved visual, radiographical ands ultrasonic checks. The work totaled over 60,000 man-hours to check all the necessary components. Three weeks of ground tests took place before two test flights were performed.

Ownership was officially transferred to Groupe Air France on June 9, 1999. The aircraft, now certified ready to resume flight was returned to service with Air France on November 1, 1999. However, disaster was not far away.

F-BTSC was unfortunately written of in a spectacular crash outside Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris on July 25, 2000.

The aircraft was departing Paris Charles de Gaulle at 4.44 pm on flight AF 4590 to New York JFK. Departure was delayed by about one hour because the crew had requested a replacement of the thrust reverser pneumatic motor of the No. 2 engine. Also, the rear bogie truck of the left hand main undercarriage was replaced. When all 100 passengers had boarded the plane taxied to runway 26R (4217m long). Take-off weight was calculated to be 186.9 tons, including 95 tons of fuel, which was one ton over the maximum take-off weight.

At 14:42:17 the crew were cleared for takeoff.

At 14:42:31 the captain commenced the takeoff roll.

At 14:42:54.6 the co-pilot called one hundred knots, then V1 nine seconds later. A few seconds after that, tyre No 2 (right front) on the left main landing gear was destroyed after having run over a strip of metal lost by a Continental Airlines DC-10-30, registered N13067 which departed Paris as flight 055 to Newark five minutes before. The destruction of the tyre in all probability resulted in large pieces of rubber being thrown against the underside of the left wing and the rupture of a part of fuel tank 5. A severe fire broke out under the left wing and around the same time engines 1 and 2 suffered a loss of thrust, severe for engine 2, slight for engine 1.

By 14:43:13 as the captain commenced the rotation, the controller informed the crew the presence of flames behind the aircraft. The co-pilot acknowledged this transmission and the flight engineer announced the failure of engine no. 2. Nine seconds later the engine fire alarm sounded and the flight engineer announced 'shut down engine 2' then the captain called for the 'engine fire' procedure. A few seconds later, the engine 2 fire handle was pulled and the fire alarm stopped.

The co-pilot drew the captain's attention to the airspeed, which was 200 kt. At 14:43:30 the captain called for the landing gear to be retracted. The controller confirmed the presence of large flames behind the aircraft. Twelve seconds later the engine fire alarm sounded again for around 12 seconds. It sounded for the third time at about 14:43:58 and continued until the end of the flight. At 14:43:56, the co-pilot commented that the landing gear had not retracted and made several callouts in relation to the airspeed. Three seconds later, the GPWS alarm sounded several times. The co-pilot informed ATC that they were trying for Le Bourget aerodrome. Then the number 1 engine lost power as well. The aircraft entered a left turn until control was lost, crashing into hotel 'Hotellisimo' and bursting into flames.

PROBABLE CAUSE:

- High-speed passage of a tyre over a part lost by an aircraft that had taken off five minutes earlier and the destruction of the tyre.
- The ripping out of a large piece of the fuel tank in a complex process of transmission of the energy produced by the impact of a piece of tyre at another point on the tank, this transmission associating deformation of the tank skin and the movement of the fuel, with perhaps the contributory effect of other more minor shocks and /or a hydrodynamic pressure surge.
- Ignition of the leaking fuel by an electric arc in the landing gear bay or through contact with the hot parts of the engine with forward propagation of the flame causing a very large fire under the aircraft's wing and severe loss of thrust on engine 2 then engine 1.

In addition, the impossibility of retracting the landing gear probably contributed to the retention and stabilisation of the flame throughout the flight.

On board the aircraft at the time of the accident were 9 crew members and 100 passengers. Everyone on the aircraft was kiiled in the accident along with 4 people on the ground.

F-BTSC was cancelled from the French Aircraft Register on December 6, 2000 as having been 'destroyed'.

The remains of F-BTSC were stored at Le Bourget, Paris

At the time of this tragic accident F-BTSC had flown a total of 11,989 hours with 4,873 cycles.

 

F-BTSC. Air France - in the final livery at Paris Charles de Gualle Airport, February 1996.

(R. N. Smith Collection Copyright Image 1926-033.)

F-BTSC. Air France - in the final livery at Paris Charles de Gualle Airport, April 2000.

(C. Laugier Copyright Image 1926-050.)