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Fri, May 30, 2003 - Page 12 News List

One Concorde will go to its final rest at the Smithsonian

AFP , WASHINGTON

One of Air France's five Con-cordes, the supersonic passenger jet being phased out after a quarter century of pricy transatlantic haulage, will have a final resting place in the US.

The Smithsonian Institution's Air and Space Museum, repository to such aviation trasures as the Spirit of St. Louis and the Apollo 11 space capsule, will house the coveted prize at the cavernous Steven Udvar-Hazy expo center it is opening at Dulles International Airport in December.

"It's definitely an asset to our collection to have a Concorde," said Smithsonian spokeswoman Claire Brown.

"It's a one-of-a kind artefact," she said. "And from our visitors' perspective, so few people having had the opportunity to fly in a Concorde, it will a real treat to see one. It will be a highlight of the collection ... at Dulles."

The Smithsonian and Air France signed the transfer agreement back in 1989 and, "discussions are still taking place to implement it," said Brown.

"Most recently," she said, "we received additionnal museum-related conditions or terms of the agreement that we are still continuing to discuss with Air France," which will end Concorde service tomorrow.

Air France on Wednesday announced that its four other Concordes will go to Germany's Speyer Technical Museum in Sinsheim, the Bourget Air and Space Museum north of Paris, the Airbus aeronautics group in Toulouse, southwestern France and an expo site at Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport.

In addition to the Concorde, the 70,000 square meter Udvar-Hazy expo center at Dulles will house more than 200 famous air and space craft, including the prototype of the space shuttle Enterprise, the SR-71 Blackbird spy plane and the Wright Brothers' first manned flight craft.

British Airways, the only other airline to fly the Concorde, has yet to announce plans for its fleet. However, its rival Virgin Atlantic is striving to keep the famous aircraft in the air.

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