Last night’s BA003 Concorde service from Heathrow to New York diverted into Gander, Newfoundland, as a precaution, after a slight smell of fuel was noticed at the rear of the passenger cabin. Passengers on last night’s BA003 were kept fully briefed on the situation by the crew operating the flight. The passengers were transferred last night to a Boeing 737 chartered by British Airways to carry them on to New York early this morning.
This followed a delay to yesterday morning’s BA001 after a minor refuelling problem. Passengers checked in for this service were still in the lounge and were boarded on to the standby aircraft.
On Saturday night, the aircraft operating the BA004 from New York had a small engine surge - equivalent to a car backfiring - on landing at Heathrow.
All three issues are unconnected. There is no evidence that they are related in any way to last Tuesday’s Air France tragedy. The precautions adopted in all three incidents ensured that the safety of our passengers, crew and aircraft was not compromised.
British Airways’ reaffirmed its position today that, on the strength of all the reviews and information received to date, there is no technical, safety or operational evidence to suggest that Concorde should not operate safely into the future.
Concorde services move into their mid-summer operating programme today - with one flight in each direction between Heathrow and New York, instead of the two operated through the rest of the year - as planned six months ago and in all recent years.
The BA001 is expected to depart from Heathrow as scheduled. The aircraft that had been scheduled to operate the return BA002 is still in Gander, where it is being examined by a team of British Airways engineers from New York. Another aircraft will fly today’s BA002 in its place, but this has meant retiming the departure two and a half hours later than originally planned.
Mike Street, British Airways’ Director of Customer Services and Operations, reaffirmed the airline’s position this morning: “British Airways’ first concern always is safety. We would not have resumed Concorde services unless we were completely satisfied that we had taken every conceivable step to assure the safety of our Concorde operations.”
Later today, a team of senior British Airways Concorde technical, engineering and operational experts will be part of a UK civil aviation delegation, including airworthiness regulators, meeting with their counterparts in Paris, at the invitation of the French Transport Minister, to discuss measures that should be taken before Air France resumes Concorde operations.