Fittest loser
Article updated: 11/29/2012 9:50 AM

French court overturns Concorde crash conviction

In this July 25, 2000, photo, Air France Concorde flight 4590 takes off with fire trailing from its engine on the left wing from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.

In this July 25, 2000, photo, Air France Concorde flight 4590 takes off with fire trailing from its engine on the left wing from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.

 

Associated Press

 1 of 1 
 
text size: AAA
By Associated Press

VERSAILLES, France -- A French appeals court has overturned a manslaughter conviction against Continental Airlines for the July 2000 crash of an Air France Concorde that killed 113 people, ruling Thursday that mistakes by the company's mechanics were not enough to make it legally responsible for the deaths.

The crash hastened the end for the already-faltering supersonic Concorde, synonymous with high-tech luxury but a commercial failure. The program, jointly operated by Air France and British Airways, was taken out of service in 2003.

Advertisement

In the July 25, 2000, accident, the jet crashed into a hotel near Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport soon after taking off, killing all 109 people aboard and four on the ground. Most of the victims were Germans heading to a cruise in the Caribbean.

A French court initially convicted Continental Airlines Inc. and one of its mechanics in 2010 for the crash of the Air France Concorde, and imposed about (euro) 2 million ($2.7 million) in damages and fines on the carrier.

The lower court ruled that the mechanic fitted a metal strip on a Continental DC-10 that fell onto the runway, puncturing the Concorde's tire. The burst tire sent bits of rubber into the fuel tanks, which started the fire that brought down the plane.

"This was a tragic accident and we support the court's decision that Continental did not bear fault. We have long maintained that neither Continental nor its employees were responsible for this tragic event and are satisfied that this verdict was overturned," Megan McCarthy, a spokeswoman for Chicago-based United Continental Holdings Inc., said in a written statement. Continental merged with United in 2010.

Parties including Air France and Continental compensated the families of most victims years ago, so financial claims were not the trial's focus -- the main goal was to assign responsibility.

In the original trial, Continental and the mechanic, John Taylor, were also ordered to pay tens of thousands of euros in damages to families of a few victims in the case.

At the time, Continental lawyer Olivier Metzner argued that the U.S. airline was a convenient scapegoat and that there wasn't enough evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

In France, unlike in many other countries, plane crashes routinely lead to trials to assign criminal responsibility -- cases that often drag on for years.

In the years it took French judicial investigators to work their way to trial, amassing 80,000 pages of court documents, the Concordes were revamped, retired and finally sent to museums.

Comments ()
We are now using Facebook comments to offer a more inclusive, social and constructive discussion. Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.

This article filed under

Business Video
Area Business Calendar

BusinessDirectory

Connect with a business or service in your area fast. First select a town, then enter a search term or choose one of the listed popular searches:

Don't see your town listed? Visit our full directory to begin your search.

MostViewed

Today
Yesterday
Most Commented
Top Jobs

    View all Top Jobs Place a job ad

    DHExtras

       
    • Newspaper next section - Newspaper next section Report card checker - report card checker
    • Dh innovation award 2 - Dh innovation award 2 Zillow /real estate page
    • Discuss refer On Guard series
    • Newspaper archives -- Monday or anyday Mike North

    FacebookActivity