The Air France Concorde crash, like most aircraft accidents, will be dissected and analyzed for months to come. Eventually, the accident investigators will glean from the evidence some clue as to the future precautions that could make this kind of accident less likely to recur. We are hopeful that the answers will come.

In the wake of horrible tragedies such as these, our hearts go out to the families and friends of the victims, and to our colleagues in travel who have to live with the terrible consequences of disaster.

Today, our sense of shock and pain is heightened by the stark truth that this was the Concorde, the technological marvel that for 20 years was set apart from the rest of commercial aviation by its awesome power as an icon of the age.

Eventually, the grim laws of probability catch up with every technological wonder, forcing us to confront a series of awful "firsts," such as the first fatal automobile accident, the first airplane crash, the first nuclear accident, the first jet aircraft accident, the first casualties in space and now the first crash of a Concorde. Such sobering moments often inspire sobering reassessment, improvement, progress and renewal.

That should be the case here, for it is our hope that Concorde will be remembered as the first supersonic transport, not the last.

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The June paradox

For a product that is reviled in the consumer press as shoddy and overpriced, air transportation is doing pretty well at the box office. The major U.S airlines reported a phenomenal 80% load factor in June. Consumer demand for their services is at an all-time high, just as consumer satisfaction with those services is said to be at an all-time low.

Have our deregulated airlines flown into the paradox of being ruined by their own success?

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