Concorde makes emergency stop in Canada

LONDON - A British Airways Concorde flying from London to New York had to make an emergency stop Sunday in eastern Canada after a crew member smelled gasoline in the cabin, the airline said.

Emergency vehicles were on alert as the Concorde Flight 003 descended into the Gander, Newfoundland, airport but the landing went ahead without incident, the Canadian Transportation Ministry said.

''It is purely a precautionary measure,'' said British Airways spokeswoman Jemma Moore in London. ''The captain became aware of a smell at rear of the cabin, and we never take any chances.''

It was the second problem with one of British Airways' supersonic luxury jets Sunday and the third in two days - all after an Air France Concorde crashed Tuesday outside Paris, killing 114 people.

Despite the incidents, British Airways expected to continue operating regular service out of London and New York on Monday, Moore said. ''We wouldn't be flying unless we thought it was safe,'' she said. The airline briefly halted its flights by its seven Concordes after the Air France crash, but resumed them Wednesday.

Passengers on Sunday's Concorde Flight 003 - including entertainers Tony Bennett and George Benson - were told midway across the Atlantic that an emergency landing was planned, according to Norwegian businessman Jostein Svenson, who was on the flight.

''Considering the Paris crash, of course quite a lot of passengers got quite nervous and quite upset,'' said Svenson in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corp. ''But it wasn't full panic, as you may expect.''

The flight, scheduled to fly from London's Heathrow airport to New York's John F. Kennedy airport, was grounded in Gander pending safety checks. The airline chartered a Boeing 737 to take the 57 passengers to New York on a flight leaving at 1:15 a.m. EDT on Monday.

British Airways engineers from New York were being flown in late Sunday to inspect the aircraft.

Earlier Sunday, another Concorde was unable to take off from Heathrow because of a refueling problem, the airline said. That flight to New York, scheduled to depart at 10:30 a.m., was delayed for more than an hour.

Passengers were put onto another Concorde, which arrived safely in New York, spokeswoman Moore said. The airline called the procedure ''standard.''

On Saturday evening, fire trucks and ambulances were put on standby at Heathrow after a Concorde flight from New York to London experienced a mixture of fuel and air in the engine. A loud bang was heard inside the jet, which was ''something like an engine backfiring,'' a British Airways' spokeswoman said.

Air France grounded its fleet of five remaining Concordes after Tuesday's tragic crash.

French investigators have been looking into the theory that a burst tire on the plane's undercarriage could have damaged the plane near the engines, causing a fire. Expert said Sunday that flames spewing from the back of the plane were likely caused by a major fuel leak.

Air France Flight 4590 went down Tuesday minutes after takeoff when the jet crashed in a ball of flames into a small hotel in the town of Gonesse, near Charles de Gaulle airport. All 109 people on board were killed and five bystanders died on the ground.


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