More than a dozen years after the July 2000 crash of an Air France Concorde supersonic transport (SST) outside Paris, a French court will decide today whether to uphold a manslaughter conviction against Continental Airlines.
The original ruling, which was appealed, held that a Continental mechanic improperly attached a metal strip to one of the airline’s DC-10s and the strip fell off on the runway at Charles de Gaulle Airport.
The debris punctured the Concorde’s tire and pieces of the tire were ingested in the SST’s engines, which caught fire, leading to the crash into a hotel. All 109 passengers and crew were killed along with four people on the ground.
Air France and British Airways discontinued the jointly operated Concorde program in 2003. Criminal charges are rare in the case of aircraft accidents, with one other notable exception being the September 2006 collision between an Embraer Legacy business jet and a Brazilian airliner. The Boeing 737 crashed killing all on board, while the Legacy made a safe emergency landing. Brazil filed criminal charges against the American pilots. In the Concorde case, the original manslaughter conviction of the airline and one of its mechanics came in 2010 and included a court order to pay $2.7 million in damages.