Verdict Expected Monday in July 2000 Fatal Air France Concorde Crash

French court to rule on fatal Concorde crash in 2000

By Hugh Schofield BBC News, Paris

A Paris court is set to give its verdict in a trial to determine any criminal responsibility in the crash of a Concorde supersonic jet 10 years ago.

US airline Continental is accused of involuntary homicide after a report found a piece of metal from one of its planes caused a tyre-burst in the jet.

The jet caught fire shortly after take off from Charles de Gaulle airport in July 2000, killing 113 people.

Two airline operatives and three French officials have also been charged.

Air France has paid 100m euro in compensation to the families of the crash victims

Continental faces a fine of 175,000 euros (£150,000, $218,000) if it is found guilty of indirectly causing the Concorde crash through an act of negligence.

It was argued in the trial that a piece of titanium from a Continental Airlines DC-10 plane fell onto the runway just before the Concorde took off.

This piece of metal burst a tyre on the Concorde, sending up debris into the fuel tank which then caught fire.

Continental fiercely disputes this version, and during the trial its lawyer presented a different explanation for the crash, putting the blame on the jet’s operator, Air France.

In addition to Continental and its two operatives, three French officials were also accused of indirect responsibility for the crash – for failing to enact proper safeguards following previous tyre-burst incidents on Concordes.

All the individuals face smaller fines and possible suspended jail terms.

The trial was supposed to conclude the protracted debates over responsibility for the crash, but Monday’s verdict may still not be the end.

Air France paid out 100m euro in compensation to victims’ families.

If Continental is convicted, the French carrier could decide to seek to reclaim that money from the American company.

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