The Real Reason for the Crash of Air France Flight 4590

concorde-crash flight 4590

Concorde pilot John Hutchinson presents clear evidence that the French authorities, who conducted the crash investigation, covered up the true cause and tried to blame Continental airways engineers and design weaknesses in Concorde.

Air France Flight 4590 was an international charter flight, from Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris to John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York, flown by an Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde. On 25 July 2000 at 15:43 UTC, the aircraft serving the flight (registration F-BTSC) crashed on take off.

Chain of Events

F-BTSC was in maintenance prior to this flight. The left main landing gear was disassembled to correct a problem. When reassembled, a wheel spacer was not reinstalled and was found still sitting on a shelf after the crash. The aircraft had done four flights with this defect prior to the crash so it wasn’t the prime cause.

The cause of the crash was pilot error.

The Captain overrode procedure and ordered the tanks to be filled to the brim instead of the normal 80%. He ordered more fuel than was required to be put in the aft tanks used for taxiing. He allowed 19 bags, that had not been weighed, to be loaded in the aft hold. All this made the aircraft over weight and the center of gravity out of limits.

Presumably due to the weight and balance being out of limits he requested to use the runway extension, even though it was officially closed because it was being re-surfaced. He also elected to take off with an 8 kt tail wind.

On take off the aircraft struck the ledge as it left the overrun and came on the to the runway. The effect was not unlike driving your car over a square curb at a 90 degree angle. This caused the wheels of the left main gear to turn 90 degrees to the left as they had no spacer to constrain them. The tires overheated and burst starting the fire.

The malfunctioning gear and burst tire forced the aircraft to slew to the left. It was then that it struck a runway light. Debris from the light struck the underside of the left wing. This caused a shockwave in the fuel of the over-filled tank. Fuel spewed from the bottom of the wing which was set on fire by the tire fire.

Investigation photo showing where aircraft departed the runway at taxiway S3.

At this point the aircraft was past V1 speed of 180kts and the Captain was committed to the takeoff. As the aircraft climbed off the runway, the Left Engine Fire Light came on. The co-pilot incorrectly shut down the engine. The fire light was false because the fire was overheating the engine. Although the engine was overheating, it was still performing at 100%. The correct procedure for an overheat would be to continue operation until the aircraft safely airborne and then shut down the engine.

Air-France-4590-Runway-Events

Once airborne, with the center of gravity shifted further aft by the escaping fuel, lack of full engine power and being overweight, the aircraft stalled and crashed..

113 people were killed in the crash.
100 passengers
9 crew
4 people on the ground.

Co-pilot: “Le Bourget, Le Bourget.”
Pilot: “Too late (unclear).”
Control tower: “Fire service leader, correction, the Concorde is returning to runway zero nine in the opposite direction.”
Pilot: “No time, no (unclear).”
Co-pilot: “Negative, we’re trying Le Bourget” (four switching sounds).
Co-pilot: “No (unclear).”
Control tower: “De Gaulle tower from fire service leader, can you give me the situation of the Concorde?”
Cockpit Area Microphone (CAM): (Sound of effort)
End of recording

When the Cold War was Hot

The Cold War wasn’t always cold and aircraft were lost to “enemy action”.

5 November 1957 A Republic of China Air Force B-26 Invader was shot down over the People’s Republic of China and the crew of three was captured. The crew was released eight months later.

24 December 1957 A US Air Force RB-57 was shot down over the Black Sea by Soviet fighters.

27 June 1958 A US Air Force C-118, reportedly on a regular supply flight from Wiesbaden West Germany to Karachi Pakistan, via Cyprus and Iran, crossed the Soviet border near Yerevan Armenia. Soviet MiG-17P Fresco pilots G.F. Svetlichnikov and B.F. Zakharov shot the aircraft down 30 km south of Yerevan. Five crew members parachuted to safety and four other survived the crash landing on a half-finished airstrip. The crew of Dale D. Brannon, Luther W. Lyles, Robert E. Crans, Bennie A. Shupe, James T. Kane, James N. Luther, James G. Holman, Earl H. Reamer and Peter N. Sabo were captured and later released by the Soviets on July 7, 1958. This aircraft was reported to be the personal aircraft of Allen Dulles, then director of the Central Intelligence Agency. The C-118 had carried senior CIA aides to Europe on an inspection trip, and it was in Turkey when it was diverted.

2 September 1958 A US Air Force C-130A Hercules (60-528) of the 7406 CSS, flying from Adana Turkey, was shot down near Sasnashen, Soviet Armenia, about 55 kilometers northwest of the Armenian capital of Yerevan by Soviet MiG-17 Fresco pilots Gavrilov, Ivanov, Kucheryaev and Viktor Lopatkov. The C-130 was a Sun Valley SIGINT aircraft. The remains of John E. Simpson, Rudy J. Swiestra, Edward J. Jeruss and Ricardo M. Vallareal were returned to the US on September 24, 1958. The remains of the other crew members, Paul E. Duncan, George P. Petrochilos, Arthur L. Mello, Leroy Price, Robert J. Oshinskie, Archie T. Bourg Jr., James E. Fergueson, Joel H. Fields, Harold T. Kamps, Gerald C. Maggiacomo, Clement O. Mankins, Gerald H. Medeiros and Robert H. Moore were recovered in 1998.

1 July 1960 A US Air Force ERB-47H Stratojet (53-4281) of the 38th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, flying over the Barents Sea was downed by Soviet pilot Vasili Poliakov, flying a MiG-15 Fagot. Co-pilot Bruce Olmstead and navigator John McKone survived and were taken captive. The pilot, Bill Palm and ELINT operators Eugene Posa, Oscar Goforth and Dean Phillips were killed. Olmstead and McKone were released from Soviet captivity on January 25th, 1961. Bill Palm’s remains were returned to the US on July 25, 1960. Eugene Posa’s remains were recovered by the Soviets, but never returned to the US.

10 March 1964 A US Air Force RB-66 Destroyer from the 10 TRW, based at Toul-Rosieres France, was shot down over East Germany by Soviet MiGs. The aircraft was shot down near Gardelegen, after straying out of one of the Berlin air corridors. The three crew members, David Holland, Melvin Kessler and Harold Welch parachuted to safety and were released several days later.

15 April 1969 While flying a patrol mission over the Sea of Japan, a US Navy EC-121M of VQ-1 (BuNo 135749) was attacked and shot down by two North Korean MiG-17 Fresco fighters 90 miles off the coast of Korea. All 31 crew members, James H. Overstreet, James L. Roach, John Dzema, John H. Potts, Dennis B. Gleason, Louis F. Balderman, Peter P. Perrottet, Richard H. Kincaid, John H. Singer, Dennis J. Horrigan, Robert F. Taylor, Frederick A. Randall, Robert J. Sykora, Stephen J. Tesmer, Norman E. Wilkerson, Hugh M. Lynch, Marshall H. McNamara, Gene K. Graham, Laverne A. Greiner, David M. Willis, Richard E. Smith, Gary R. Ducharme, Ballard F. Connors Jr., John A. Miller Jr., Stephen C. Chartier, Philip D. Sundby, Bernie J. Colgin, Richard Prindle, Timothy H. McNeil, Richard E. Sweeney and Joseph R. Ribar, were all killed in the attack. Two bodies and some wreckage was recovered by search vessels.

GARY POWERS

Rudolf Anderson Jr. (September 15, 1927 – October 27, 1962), was a pilot and commissioned officer in the United States Air Force and the first recipient of the Air Force Cross, the U.S. Air Force’s second-highest award for heroism. The only person killed by enemy fire during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Anderson died when his U-2 spy aircraft was shot down over Cuba.