Concorde crash: US mechanic and Continental guilty, says French court
Continental Airlines and an American mechanic were convicted of manslaughter and fined for the 2000 Concorde crash. But none of the French defendants were found guilty.
Continental Airlines Inc. and one of its mechanics were convicted in a French court of manslaughter Monday because debris from one of its planes caused the crash of an Air France Concorde jet that killed 113 people a decade ago.Skip to next paragraph
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The Houston-based airline was ordered to pay Air France 1.08 million euros ($1.43 million) for damaging its reputation, in addition to a fine of around 200,000 euros ($265,000). The victims of the crash were mostly German tourists.
The presiding judge confirmed investigators' long-held belief that titanium debris dropped by a Continental DC-10 onto the runway at Charles de Gaulle airport before the supersonic jet took off on July 25, 2000, was to blame. Investigators said the debris gashed the Concorde's tire, propelling bits of rubber into the fuel tanks and sparking a fire.
The plane then slammed into a nearby hotel, killing all 109 people aboard and four others on the ground.
Ronald Schmid, a lawyer who has represented several families of the German victims, said he was "skeptical" about the ruling.
"It bothers me that none of those responsible for Air France were sitting in the docks," he told The Associated Press by phone from Frankfurt.
The airline and mechanic, John Taylor, were also ordered to jointly pay more than 274,000 euros ($360,000) in damages to different civil parties.
Taylor was also handed a 15-month suspended prison sentence, and a 2,000-euro ($2,650) fine. All other defendants – including three former French officials and Taylor's now-retired supervisor Stanley Ford – were acquitted.
The court said Taylor should not have used titanium, a harder metal than usual, to build a piece for the DC-10 that is known as a wear strip. He was also accused of improperly installing the piece that fell onto the runway.
Continental's defense lawyer, Olivier Metzner, confirmed the carrier would appeal. He denounced a ruling that he called "patriotic" for sparing the French defendants and convicting only the Americans.
"This is a ruling that protects only the interests of France. This has strayed far from the truth of law and justice," he said. "This has privileged purely national interests.