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The Concorde is the only successful civilian supersonic airplane. It reaches a top speed of >2 Mach and a traveling altitude of >17.000 meters, using afterburners adopted from war planes. In a cooperation of France and Great Britain, the first Concorde planes were designed and build in the 1960s with the first test flight on March 2 1969, the regular traffic on the routes Paris-New York (Air France) and London-New York (British Airways) began in 1976. The average flight time on either route is between 3 and 31/2 hours, depending on the velocity and location of the jet stream.

The Concorde was considered to be the safest airplane, until a plane crashed during take-off in Paris on July 25, 2000. As a result, all Concorde flights were shut down for an investigation into the cause of the crash and possible remedies. After safety updates on the aircraft, both routes were re-opened on November 7, 2001.

The investigation into the crash determined that a scrap of titanium metal that fell onto the runway from an earlier flight punctured a tire in the latter stages of takeoff. Chunks of shredded tire penetrated the skin of the aircraft's wing, rupturing a loaded fuel tank. A tremendous fire rapidly ensued, disabling the aircraft, which then stalled and crashed into a hotel just miles from the airport, killing all aboard and four persons on the ground.

In all, twenty Concorde planes have been built, twelve are currently in use.

See also : Tupolev Tu-144 "Konkordski"
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