US airline Continental has been found criminally responsible for the fatal 2000 Concorde crash. The crash killed 113 people and bought the era of supersonic passenger flights to an abrupt end.
A US airline has been found "criminally responsible" after Concorde burst into flames and crashed after taking off from Charles de Gaulle Airport in 2000.
The court in Pontoise, near Paris, ruled that a strip of titanium on the runway that had fallen off a Continental Airlines jet caused Concorde’s tyre to burst, sending red-hot pieces of rubber shooting into the jet’s fuel tanks.
All 109 people on board, mostly German tourists, died as Concorde burst into flames on July 25, 2000. Four people on the ground were killed as the jet crashed into a hotel.
Continental, which is now called United Continental Holdings after a merger, was fined 200,000 euros and ordered to pay one million euros in damages. Company mechanic John Taylor was given a 15-month suspended jail sentence for manslaughter, while his supervisor was cleared.
All French defendants cleared
Prosecutors had argued that engineers working on the Concorde project had been aware since as far back as 1979 that the passenger jet had weak fuel tanks.
However, Henri Perrier, former head of the Concorde programme at French aircraft manufacturer Aerospatiale, engineer Jacques Herubel and Claude Frantzen, former chief of France’s civil aviation authority, were all cleared of manslaughter.
All the passengers’ families were compensated years ago and were not at Monday’s hearing, although the families of the crew and those killed on the ground were present.
The crash heralded the end of Concorde, bringing an era of supersonic - and unprofitable - intercontinental travel to a close.
The 2000 Concorde crash
Amateur footage, shot by a bystander, of the doomed Concorde taking off in flames moments before the July 25, 2000, crash that killed 113 people.
Virtual simulation of the flight's trajectory just before it crashed. Witnesses say they saw the aircraft "flip over like a leaf".
Helicopter view of the crash site, a motel situated 2km away from Charles de Gaulle airport, north of Paris.
A firefighter searches through the steaming mountain of debris.
The official explanation for the crash: this strip of titanium, fallen from a Continental Airlines flight that took off shortly before, pierced and burst one of the Concorde's tires as it left the runway.
The burst and charred tires amid the debris.
The day after: flowers laid in tribute to the 113 victims of the crash.
The tragic crash hastened the demise of the prestigious, but unprofitable, Franco-British supersonic jet, which flew for the last time on October 24, 2003.
Date created : 2010-12-06