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Concorde Crash: Preliminary Evidence Suggests Tire FailureAired July 27, 2000 - 2:04 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: As we have been reporting, the French government, much earlier than anticipated, is releasing preliminary evidence from its analysis of the flight data and cockpit voice recorders that were aboard that fatal Air France Concorde crash, just Tuesday of this week.
CNN's Jim Bittermann is following this business from Charles de Gaulle Airport and joins us now on the line.
Jim, what are you hearing?
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, we got some very interesting information this afternoon from the initial phase of the investigation, as they are calling it. The Bureau of Accident Investigation, here in France, which is roughly equivalent to the National Transportation Safety Board of the United States, has told us what they found out in their initial phase. There are two important things that have come out that may change the direction of this investigation. One is that along the runway that the Concorde used for takeoff, they found fragments of the tires -- one of the Concorde tires, they found tire fragments on the runway. The second is that, apparently, the pilot reported that he could not withdraw the landing gear, that he couldn't bring up the landing gear after takeoff.
Now, those two, together, would point to some kind of a tire failure. And this becomes significant because the Concorde, way back in its history, more than 20 years ago, had some real tire problems, one of which almost ended in disaster in Washington, D.C. in 1979, when a tire blew out and the magnesium rim from the -- that was carrying the tire, the rim shattered, and parts of the rim went right through the wing and ruptured the fuel tank.
One of the questions that the investigators have been looking at -- or told us they were looking at earlier in the day is why so much fuel was coming off the wing of the Concorde. When you have a sealed wing tank like that, what would have caused it to release so much fuel and make those spectacular flames that we saw in the very dramatic amateur photos. This could be a possible explanation.
But I don't think it's the bottom line yet. I think there's still a lot of investigation that's going to go on. And what they say that they will probably publish a preliminary report sometime near the end of August -- Lou.
WATERS: Jim Bittermann, from Charles de Gaulle Airport, the latest on the Concorde crash.
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