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Concorde Safety Changes Approved


French and British civil aviation authorities announced Wednesday that they have approved safety changes to the Concorde, clearing the way for the supersonic jets' return to commercial service, more than a year after the crash of a French Concorde.

British Airways hailed the news by announcing it will resume Concorde flights next month, while Air France, the other airline that flies the Concorde, says it will resume Concorde operations in November.

However, before any of the jets goes back into commercial service, both airlines must carry out safety modifications on all Concordes in their fleet. After those are completed, British and French aviation authorities will issue airworthiness certificates for the jets, a process that may only take a few days. British Airways says one of its Concordes has already completed the necessary modifications.

The luxury jet is the fastest commercial aircraft in the world, completing a journey between Europe and the United States in under four hours.

The Concorde fleet has been grounded since July of last year, after a French jet crashed outside Paris, killing 113 people.

On Wednesday, French Transportation Minister Jean-Claude Gayssot said in a statement that he was delighted by the aviation authorities' decision to restore the airworthiness certificates. The minister had earlier promised to be among the first passengers on an Air France Concorde when it resumed service.

Air France and British Airways have been testing new safety modifications for the jet this year, including puncture-resistant tires, and fuel tank liners. This week, Air France also began a training round for Concorde pilots and flight instructors. In addition, the company has begun test flights over the Atlantic.

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