Added by Annika L. Krugel on December 7, 2010
Continental Airlines and an airline mechanic have been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for their role in the July 25, 2000 crash of the Air France Concorde near Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport.
A French court on Monday ruled that the airline, now United Continental Holdings following a merger, and aerospace group EADS, who owns the factories that built some of the Concorde, will be held responsible for 70 and 30 per cent respectively of damages payable to families of the 113 people that died in the crash.
It is believed that damages could add up to some tens of millions of euros. In addition, the airline was fined €200,000 (US$265,800).
The court ruled that poor maintenance practices were responsible for the small piece of metal that dropped off a Continental aircraft that took off before the Concorde, and which punctured its tires and sent debris into the fuel tanks and consequently caused the ensuing fatal fire.
Continental welder John Tayler was thus handed a 15-month suspended prison sentence.
Both Continental and Taylor have said they will appeal the verdict, which the airline calls “absurd”.
The crash led to the Concorde being taken out of service in 2003, ending an era of supersonic travel between Paris, London and New York.