Concorde set for take-off after £17m modifications

British Airways hopes to put Concorde back into passenger service by the spring following a modification programme costing £17m.

British Airways hopes to put Concorde back into passenger service by the spring following a modification programme costing £17m.

Work has now started at Heathrow Airport on fitting new linings made from a kevlar and rubber compound to fuel tanks on Alpha Foxtrot, one of BA's seven Concordes.

The linings are designed to contain the fuel should the wing skin be punctured, preventing any repetition of the devastating fire that brought down the Air France Concorde which crashed near Paris last July, killing all 109 people on board as well as four on the ground.

It will take a BA team of 40 engineers between eight and 10 weeks to carry out alterations to each of the seven Concordes.

While Air France carries out tests on the ground in southern France, BA will do airborne tests using Alpha Foxtrot.

If there are no complications, both airlines will get back their Concorde airworthiness certificates and passenger services can resume.

Captain Mike Bannister, 51, BA's Concorde chief pilot, says: "This is very much a team effort and everyone on both sides of the Channel is working really hard to get Concorde back into the air.

"We are hoping that a BA Concorde can take off at the same time as an Air France one when commercial services resume - it would underscore how well we have all worked together.

"Hopefully, I shall be flying the first test flight and the first passenger flight and I'm really looking forward to it."

Capt Bannister, who has been with BA since 1969, added: "We will initially be operating one London-New York return flight a day and plan to go back to the usual two returns a day schedule by late summer or early autumn. Some time after that, we plan to resume Concorde flights to Barbados."

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