Continental guilty for Concorde crash

Continental Airlines has been found guilty and “criminally responsible” by a French court for the Concorde crash that occurred 10 years ago.

The airline, now United Continental Holdings, was fined EUR 202,000 (USD 268,400). The ruling also stipulated that that Continental should pay 70 percent of any compensation claims to the families of the victims.

Aerospace group EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company N.V.) — the owner of the French factories which partly built the Concorde airliners — was ordered to pay the remaining 30 percent, according to state-funded BBC.

It has also been ordered to pay EUR 1 million to the jet’s operator Air France.

John Taylor, a Continental mechanic, received a fine of EUR 2,000 (USD 2,656) and a 15-month suspended prison sentenced over the crash.

In July 2000, the Concorde caught fire shortly after take-off from Paris, killing 113 people on board.

During the Concorde’s subsequent take-off run, the aircraft lost a titanium part. The piece of debris, still lying on the runway, ruptured a tire which then burst.

The airline confirmed on Monday it would appeal the ruling.

“We strongly disagree with the court’s verdict regarding Continental Airlines and John Taylor and will of course appeal this absurd finding,” a spokesman for the airline said in a statement.

Continental says the airliner, operated by Air France, had already caught fire before it hit the small piece of titanium.

“Portraying the metal strip as the cause of the accident, and Continental and one of its employees as the sole guilty parties, shows the determination of the French authorities to shift attention and blame away from Air France, which was government-owned at the time and operated and maintained the aircraft, as well as from the French authorities responsible for the Concorde’s airworthiness and safety,” a spokesman said in an earlier statement.

The flight was chartered by German company Peter Deilmann Cruises and all passengers were on their way to board the MS Deutschland cruise ship in New York City for a 16-day cruise to South America.

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