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What caused the 2000 Concorde crash?

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Toshihiko Sato/AP/File

(Read caption) Air France Concorde Flight 4590 takes off from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, with fire trailing from its engine on the left wing in this July 25, 2000 file photo.

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Flying from Paris to New York City in under four hours may sound futuristic. It’s actually history. The supersonic Concorde halved transatlantic flight time during its operations from 1969 until 2003, when the commercial jet was retired, in large part because of a crash in 2000 that killed 113.

Ten years on, the cause of Air France Flight 4590’s crash outside of Paris is the subject of a trial starting today in France. All 100 passengers, nine crew, and four people on the ground died when the drop-nosed jet crashed into a hotel on July 25, 2000, shortly after taking off from Charles de Gaulle airport.

The passengers were traveling on a flight to New York's John F Kennedy Airport to board a cruise.

Lawyers for Concorde are expected to argue that one of the jet’s tires was punctured by a small piece of metal that fell minutes earlier from a Continental Airlines flight. This was also the conclusion of an investigative report by French authorities, issued Jan. 15, 2002, finding that debris struck the underside of a wing and ruptured a fuel tank.

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