Air France Flight 4590 was a Concorde flight from Charles de Gaulle International Airport near Paris, France, to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, New York, and operated by Air France. On 25 July 2000 it crashed in Gonesse, France. All one hundred passengers and nine crew on board the flight perished. On the ground, four people were killed with one left wounded.
Continental Airlines Inc. and one of its mechanics were convicted in a French court of manslaughter Monday because debris from one of its planes caused the crash of an Air France Concorde jet that killed 113 people a decade ago.
The Houston-based airline was ordered to pay Air France euro1.08 million ($1.43 million) for damaging its reputation, in addition to a fine of around euro200,000 ($265,000). The victims of the crash were mostly German tourists.
The presiding judge confirmed investigators' long-held belief that titanium debris dropped by a Continental DC-10 onto the runway at Charles de Gaulle airport before the supersonic jet took off on July 25, 2000, was to blame. Investigators said the debris gashed the Concorde's tire, propelling bits of rubber into the fuel tanks and sparking a fire.
The plane then slammed into a nearby hotel, killing all 109 people aboard and four others on the ground.
Ronald Schmid, a lawyer who has represented several families of the German victims, said he was "skeptical" about the ruling.
"It bothers me that none of those responsible for Air France were sitting in the docks," he told The Associated Press by phone from Frankfurt.
The airline and mechanic, John Taylor, were also ordered to jointly pay more than euro274,000 ($360,000) in damages to different civil parties.
Taylor was also handed a 15-month suspended prison sentence, and a euro2,000 ($2,650) fine. All other defendants – including three former French officials and Taylor's now-retired supervisor Stanley Ford – were acquitted.
The court said Taylor should not have used titanium, a harder metal than usual, to build a piece for the DC-10 that is known as a wear strip. He was also accused of improperly installing the piece that fell onto the runway.