PARIS (July 31, 2000) — French officials investigating the Air France Concorde crash outside Paris July 25 discovered tire debris on the runway and along the ill-fated airliner´s flight path, leading to speculation that a tire or tire/wheel failure on takeoff may have contributed to a chain of events that caused the crash.
Officials conducting the investigation have made no link as yet between the tire debris and the accident, but there have been at least three Concorde incidents in the past where tire debris caused engine problems, Federal Aviation Administration records show.
French investigators are focusing their attention on the possibility that the fuel tank in the Concorde´s left wing ruptured and caught fire; this may have been caused by an object puncturing it from the outside, leading to the speculation by independent analysts that tire and/or wheel debris may be a cause.
Goodyear is the exclusive supplier of tires used on the Air France fleet of Concorde aircraft, and Goodyear spokesmen confirmed that French investigators had asked the company for information about the tires, which are produced at the company´s plant in Danville, Va.
The Concorde uses two tires at the nose and eight under the main wing area. Unlike most aircraft tires, which are retreaded up to 20 times, Concorde tires are never retreaded, a spokesman said.
News reports from the Associated Press, the New York Times and CNN all have quoted aviation experts citing the possible link between tire failure and engine and/or fuel tank problems.