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Computer-Related Incidents with Commercial Aircraft

Air France Concorde SST, Fire and Loss of Control, Paris, France, July 2000

25 July 2000

Synopsis This accident, which happened on my 49th birthday, signalled the end of supersonic commercial transport. The Concorde is, to my mind as well as to that of my young son, the most beautiful aircraft that has ever flown. And now no more. I treasure my book of superb photographs, Concorde, by Wolfgang Tillmans, Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne, ISBN 3-88375-273-8, which I bought at the Bielefeld Art Museum, and recommend it highly. Herr Tillmans deserves more viewers (and more buyers).

Would it be stretching a point to suggest that the accident is analogue-computer-related? No matter. It is here because we have something to say. My student Bernd Sieker performed a Why-Because Analysis of the accident as Part II (pp49-100) of his Diploma thesis Visualisation Concepts and Improved Software Tools for Causal System Analysis. His discussion of his results with the former Concorde Chief Aerodynamicist, Clive Leymann, is included in the Appendices, pp132-150 of the Acrobat Reader page count. Clive wrote an essay on the accident, which is at pp132-136 of the Acrobat Reader page count, and there followed three e-mail contributions from him (pp137-150).

There are also slides available from a talk Bernd gave on his work to the First Bieleschweig Workshop on System Engineering, a workshop series which I founded with my colleagues Jens Braband at Siemens Transportation Systems, and Jan-Tecker Gayen at the Institute of Railway Systems Engineering and Traffic Safety (IfEV) at the Technical University of Braunschweig (Brunswick). (The Bieleschweig Workshops WWW pages are hosted with us. Take a look, especially if you are interested in rigorous accident analysis.) Bernd's talk was entitled WBA and the Concorde Accident

The easiest place from which to obtain the accident report and various other material seems to be The Concorde Accident.