Continental cleared of criminal blame over Concorde crash


A French appeal court has cleared US airline Continental of criminal responsibility for the Concorde crash in July 2000 in which 113 people died.

But it upheld a previous ruling that the airline bore a civil responsibility for the tragedy.

The new ruling comes two years after a criminal court found Continental guilty of manslaughter and ordered it to pay €2 million in fines and damages.

Yesterday the conviction was quashed along with a 15-month suspended sentence against one of the company’s mechanics.

The €200,000 fine was overturned but the remaining damages to be paid to Air France were upheld.

In 2010, judges decided Continental bore criminal responsibility for the accident, which signalled the end of supersonic transatlantic flight, after experts testified that a metal strip from one of Continental’s DC10 aircraft had fallen on to the runway, shortly before Concorde took off from Charles de Gaulle airport, Paris.

This set off a catastrophic chain of events by puncturing one of the supersonic jet’s tyres as it roared down the runway, sending fragments of rubber into a fuel tank, which caught fire, they testified.

Concorde left the ground trailing a plume of fire and slammed into a hotel just north of Paris killing all 109 passengers and crew and four people on the ground. Most of the passengers were German holidaymakers heading for a Caribbean cruise.

– (Guardian service)