By Philip Newman
Fragments of the tail assembly of a Concorde airliner fell off during a flight to John F. Kennedy International airport last week in an incident that a Queens congressman said should bring grounding of the world’s only supersonic jet.
An Air France Concorde en route from Paris to Kennedy on Feb. 27 lost a section of lower left side and a piece of the lower right side of the rudder, according to Arlene Salac, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration. The plane, which was carrying 38 passengers plus crew members, landed without incident.
“Every few months we hear about another disturbing incident involving the Concorde,” said U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Kew Gardens). “What more has to happen before we take away its wings? The Concorde is loud, old and unreliable and it’s long past time to ground it for good.”
In Paris, an Air France spokeswoman said the airline was conducting an investigation into the incident.
Weiner, who has long complained that the Concorde causes massive noise and exhaust pollution, has introduced legislation to ban the plane in the United States.
The incident came about three months after an Air France Concorde plunged from an altitude of 60,000 feet to 27,000 feet after trouble developed in an engine. The plane stabilized and arrived safely at Kennedy from Paris.
Several other minor incidents have occurred involving Concordes since an Air France Concorde crashed on takeoff at Charles De Gaulle airport July 25, 2000, killing 113 people. All Concordes were taken out of service for more than a year during an investigation.
The Concorde has been in service since 1976, but only France and Britain have ever used them. Although British Airways initially flew Concordes to Bahrain, Singapore and other points and Air France once had service to Mexico City and Rio De Janeiro, just flights between London and Paris and the United States remain. Only 20 of the planes were built.
The Concorde, which can fly the New York-London or Paris route in under 3 1/2 hours, carries 100 passengers who pay same-day-purchase fares of nearly $12,000 round trip.
Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 136.