Continental, Mechanic Found Guilty in Connection with Notorious Concord Crash

12/07/2010 // West Palm Beach, FL, US // Sandra Quinlan // Sandra Quinlan

Paris—A French judge announced a verdict Monday, Dec. 6, 2010, ruling that Continental Airlines and one of its mechanics were guilty of involuntarily homicide in connection with the deadly July 25, 2000 Air France Concord jet crash. The aviation accident, which involved a supersonic passenger airliner, resulted in 113 fatalities and spurred Air France to discontinue operation of its Concorde fleet just a few years later, as reported by the Denver Post.

Judge Dominique Andreassier ruled that Continental Airlines and one of its mechanics, John Taylor, were guilty of involuntary homicide in conjunction with the crash of a Concorde supersonic transport (SST) in 2000.

The Concord was known for its ability to travel twice the speed of sound.

According to information provided, a piece of metal fell off a Continental DC-10 aircraft as it took off from the French airport, minutes before the Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde was set to depart.

As the Concorde began accelerating on the runway, it ran over the strip of metal, piercing a hole in one of its tires. The tire blew out completely, sending pieces of rubber into the aircraft’s fuel tanks.

Within moments, the Concord’s fuel tank caught fire, causing it to crash violently into a hotel near the airport. All 109 passengers and crew members aboard the supersonic transport were killed in the tragic plane crash.

Additionally, four people on the ground lost their lives as a result of the brutal aviation accident.

The trial took place outside of Paris, with the French court ordering Continental to pay Air France more than $1.3 million in civil damages, as well as a separate penalty of $265,000.

The mechanic was given a suspended 15-month prison sentence and ordered to pay $2,650. Three other defendants were initially named in the case, but they have since been acquitted.

Continental spokesman Nick Britton maintained, “To find that any crime was committed in this tragic accident is not supported either by the evidence at trial or by aviation authorities and experts around the world.”

Continental called the verdict “absurd,” noting that it would file an appeal.

While the ruling could potentially pave the way the victims’ families to file wrongful death lawsuits in connection with the 2000 Concord accident, some aviation-safety experts alleged the criminal charges could have a negative effect on accident investigations.

“Verdicts like this tend to drive safety underground… Accident investigations depend on information from professionals who can admit mistakes when they happen,” explained Flight Safety Foundation president William Voss.

On April 10, 2003, Air France announced that it would cease operation of its Concorde fleet after Oct. 31, 2003, due to financial difficulties that resulted from a steep drop in demand after the infamous Concord wreck.

Legal News Reporter: Sandra Quinlan– Legal News for Aviation Accident Lawyers.

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