On the 25th of July 2000 at 4:40pm, Air France Flight 4590 sits on the taxiway of Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris France. The passengers and crew of Flight 4590 are third in line to take off from Runway 26 Right. In front of them are two other intercontinental airliners. Taking off at this moment is a Continental Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-10. Next in the sequence is an Air France Boeing 747. The 100 passengers and 9 crewmembers of Air France 4590 are not aboard any ordinary airliner. Today they will be flying aboard the Aerospatiale/BAC Concorde. In 2000, even 30 years after its introduction, Concorde is still seen by many as a symbol of luxury and excess. Flying at more than twice the speed of sound, the aircraft will be on the ground at its destination of John F Kennedy Airport in New York in about three and a half hours. In comparison, the DC-10 taking off in front of Air France 4590 and heading for Newark Airport, also in New York, will be less than halfway across the Atlantic when the Concorde is arriving at its gate. While the journey is quick, that speed comes at an enormous price. A return trip from London or Paris to New York costs just under $8,000 making regularly scheduled flights difficult to fill. To keep the operation of Concorde profitable, as well as operating scheduled flights, Air France also offers Concorde on a charter service. Air France 4590 is just such a charter flight. Today, this Concorde has been chartered by Peter Deilmann Cruises, a prestigious cruise operator. The passengers aboard Concorde are embarking on the first stage of a luxurious journey, travelling to New York where they will board the MS Deutschland for a 14 night cruise of the Caribbean. Apart from one Austrian, two Danes and an American, the remaining 96 passengers are German. With the three flight crew and six flight attendants, the total complement is 109.
All of those aboard have less than five minutes to live.