French Court Reaches Manslaughter Verdict in Concorde Crash Trial

An Air France Concorde in flight. Air France

A French criminal court has ruled that Continental Airlines and one of its mechanics are guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the 2000 crash of an Air France Concorde supersonic transport (SST). All 109 on board and four on the ground died when a strip of metal that fell from one of Continental's aircraft punctured one of the Concorde's tires on takeoff. The blown tire led to a fire that doomed the SST — the first and last ever fatal Concorde crash. The type was removed from service shortly after the accident. Based on Monday's court ruling, Continental and EADS (the European company that now retains liability for the Concorde fleet) are responsible for a 70-30 split, respectively, of damages payable to families of the victims. The claims could run to tens of millions of euros, according to a Reuters report on the court decision. Continental faces a fine of 200,000 euros as a result of the ruling; and mechanic John Taylor received a 15-month suspended sentence for his role in the disaster. Lawyers for the airline have called the ruling "absurd" and will appeal, as will the attorney representing Taylor.

Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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