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Cracks Found in Wings of 7 Concordes, Airline Says : Aerospace: British Airways says the problem poses no safety threat.

From Reuters

British Airways said Sunday that it has found hairline cracks inside the wings of its seven supersonic Concorde aircraft but that there is no safety threat and that the planes would stay in the air.

“It’s not an airworthiness issue . . . there’s absolutely no implication for the safe operation of Concorde,” an airline spokeswoman said.

Last week, investigators revealed that in April, a British Airways Concorde with 55 people aboard had come close to losing pressure in the cabin when two outer cabin window panels shattered.

The spokeswoman said that two of the seven jets with wing cracks have already been fixed and that the Civil Aviation Authority had agreed that the others could fly as long as they were checked after every 10 trips.

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The Concorde, launched by British Airways in 1976, is the only plane in civil use that can break the sound barrier. A Concorde trans-Atlantic trip is about half that of a non-supersonic aircraft.

The airline spokeswoman said engineers first found a four-inch crack in a spar near the rear of one plane, then discovered similar but smaller cracks in the others near where the delta wing joins the fuselage.

“We still don’t know what caused the cracks . . . it’s under investigation,” she said.

She could not say exactly when the cracks were discovered, only that it was sometime after early May.

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She added that the airline suspected the cracks could be linked to the dramatic temperature swings that the supersonic aircraft are subjected to.


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