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Investigators Continue to Probe Deadly Air France Concorde Crash

Aired August 1, 2000 - 2:22 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: British Airways has taken one of its Concordes out of service. Technicians felt more adjustments were needed to a newly installed engine on the British supersonic jet.

In the meantime, French investigators are busy with their probe into last Tuesday's deadly air crash of an Air France Concorde outside Paris.

CNN's Paris bureau chief Peter Humi reports on where the inquiry stands one week later.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PETER HUMI, CNN PARIS BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): The crash site at Gonesse near Charles de Gaulle Airport remains sealed off. Flowers left in tribute to those who perished lie scattered near a makeshift memorial. Forensic teams and aviation experts share the task of sifting through the debris. The remains of two of the Concorde's engines were lifted by crane for closer inspection. Eventually they will be taken, like all of what's left of the plane, to a laboratory for full analysis.

One week after the crash of Air France Flight 4590, investigators have released some of their findings but warn the official inquiry may take 18 months to complete.

JEAN-CLAUDE GAYSSOT, FRENCH TRANSPORT MINISTER (through translator): While there's still work on exactly what happened, I think it's fairly evident that the other planes will remain grounded for the time being.

HUMI: A working theory of the series of events that led to the crash has evolved. France's Accident Investigation Bureau says one or two of the jet's tires may have exploded on takeoff, sending shrapnel- like debris into the plane's port or left wing. The bureau has determined there was a huge leak of fuel from the wing that caught fire, crippling one of the supersonic engines and seriously damaging another.

Debris from the stricken airliner was found on the runway, including parts of a fuel tank. Problems with Concorde's tires are well-documented by aviation authorities, including the National Transportation Safety Board in the United States. Two committees of inquiry and experts began meetings in Paris this week. Their task: to work with investigators and produce recommendations for the future of Concorde.

(on camera): Establishing the causes of last week's crash is the priority. But close behind will be how to improve safety and confidence in the aircraft.

Peter Humi, CNN, Paris.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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