News / Europe

French Court Overturns Continental Airlines Conviction in Concorde Crash

Air France Concorde on fire after striking debris on the Paris airport runway in 2000.Air France Concorde on fire after striking debris on the Paris airport runway in 2000.
x
Air France Concorde on fire after striking debris on the Paris airport runway in 2000.
Air France Concorde on fire after striking debris on the Paris airport runway in 2000.
Elaine Cobbe
Twelve years after the crash of an Air France Concorde jet outside Paris that killed 113 people, a French appeals court on Thursday dismissed all criminal charges against Continental Airlines, despite saying that a stray part from one of its planes led to the crash of the supersonic jet. The ruling reverses an earlier court decision that found the U.S.-based carrier guilty of manslaughter.

The appeals court in Versailles dismissed manslaughter charges against Continental Airlines and two of its mechanics. The airline had been fined some $260,000 for its part in the July 2000 crash that killed 109 people onboard and four people on the ground.

Olivier Metzner, an attorney for Continental Airlines, argued that the Concorde had design flaws that made it vulnerable to disaster.

Metzner said the case was a "political issue" and that the Concorde was "unfit to fly."

But the appeals court upheld the findings of aviation investigators that the accident was the result of a chain of events that began with a metal strip on the runway that fell off a Continental Airlines jet. The part punctured one of the Concord's tires, which struck the plane's fuel tank, set off a fire, and brought down the jetliner.

The court upheld Continental's civil responsibility in the case and ordered the airline to pay $1.3 million in damages to Air France. That money is intended to compensate the airline for lost business, and to be used toward settlements to the victims' families.

Stephane Gicquel is the head of the victims’ association.

"They explained to us that the French system of air safety is not optimum," Gicquel said, "and that it allowed a plane to fly that should not have flown - but what's happening? In the end," he said, "we’re leaving here with a huge question mark over everything, and a feeling of anxiety."

The verdict is not the end of legal proceedings in the crash.

The chief engineer in charge of the supersonic program is set go on trial in January to determine his responsibility for the crash.

And now that the criminal case against Continental is over, Air France is free to sue the U.S. airline to recover the settlements to the victims’ families.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid