Former French aviation official under investigation in Concorde probe

A former senior aviation official formally placed under investigation in connection with the 2000 Concorde crash that killed 113 people, officials said Friday.

Xavier Champion, a former high-ranking official in France's aviation authority, was placed under investigation a step short of formal charges late Thursday for manslaughter and involuntary injury, judicial officials said.

Investigating Judge Christophe Regnard found Champion had failed to ensure proper inspections took place before the crash despite concerns about the needle-nosed jet's operational problems within aviation authority, known as DGAC, and the company that built the plane.

Other DGAC officials are to be heard in the case in coming weeks.

The Air France Concorde crashed shortly after takeoff from Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport on July 25, 2000, killing all 109 people on board mostly German tourists and four on the ground.

Two investigations one by France's accident agency, the other by the prosecutor's office concluded that a titanium strip left on the runway by a Continental Airlines DC-10 was to blame. The metal strip had caused a Concorde tire to burst, which sent debris flying that punctured the jet's fuel tanks, located under the wings.

The judicial inquiry also determined the jet's fuel tanks lacked sufficient protection from shock and that the Concorde's makers had been aware of the weakness since 1979. The probe also showed the DGAC also knew of the problem and continued issuing the Concorde its airworthiness certificates.

On Wednesday, Jacques Herubel, a former engineer for Concorde-maker Aerospatiale was placed under investigation. Aerospatiale is now part of EADS, the European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co.

The former head of the Concorde program, Henri Perrier, and Continental Airlines have also been placed under investigation for alleged manslaughter and involuntary injury, reports the AP.


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Author`s name: Editorial Team