A judge ruled Monday that Continental Airlines and one of its mechanics were guilty of involuntary homicide for their role in the 2000 crash of an Air France Concorde jet outside Paris that killed 113 people and hastened the end of commercial supersonic travel.
The French court ordered Continental to pay civil damages of more than $1.3 million to Air France and a fine of $265,000. The mechanic was fined $2,650 and given a suspended 15-month prison sentence; three other defendants involved in the jet's design and certification were acquitted, according to New York Times.
Continental and its mechanic improperly monitored and maintained aircraft, resulting in a piece of titanium falling from a plane onto a runway at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport a few minutes before the ill-fated Concorde took off July 25, 2000, said Judge Dominique Andreassier at a courthouse in Pontoise, northwest of Paris.
The court said it believed the roughly 16-inch piece of metal known as a wear strip punctured a tire on the Air France jet as it sped down the runway for takeoff, and that debris perforated the jet's low-lying fuel tank, causing a leak and a fire. One minute and 51 seconds after takeoff, the jet crashed into a hotel in Gonesse, north of Paris, killing 100 passengers, nine crew members and four people on the ground.
Three French engineers who headed the manufacturing portion of the supersonic Concorde, including Henri Perrier, 81, the so-called father of the Concorde, were cleared of all charges, while their employer, EADS-France, was held civilly liable and ordered to pay 30% of about $250,000 in damages to victims, a lawyer for the company said, Los Angeles Times reports.