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Paris Court Finds Continental Responsible for Concorde Crash

Continental Lawyer Olivier Metzner delivers a statement to the medias after the conclusion of the Air France Concorde crash court case in Pontoise, north of Paris, 06 Dec 2010

US Continental Airlines was convicted of manslaughter and fined nearly $300,000 Monday for negligence that triggered the fiery July 2000 crash a Concorde jet outside Paris.

A French court found Continental Airlines and one of its mechanics guilty of involuntary manslaughter that led to the catastrophic Concorde crash a decade ago.

All 109 people on board and four people on the ground died when the New York-bound jet slammed into a hotel outside Paris, shortly after taking off. Besides fining the airlines the equivalent of about $280,000, the court ordered Continental to pay $1.32 million in damages and interest to Concorde's operator Air France.

It also handed mechanic John Taylor a 15-month suspended prison sentence. Taylor was found responsible for the faulty manufacturing and installation of a metal strip that fell from one of Continental's planes as it taxied down a Paris airport runway, shortly before the Concorde.

Investigators have concluded the strip later shredded the Concorde's tire as it was taking off from the same runway, leading to a fire in its fuel tank and causing the crash.

The judgment marks the latest chapter in the Concorde drama - but not the end. Continental's lawyer Olivier Metzner told reporters the airline would appeal the verdict.

Metzner denounced what he described as a judgment that was protectionist and served France's interests -- but did not reflect truth or justice.

The Concorde crash marked the beginning of the end of luxury, supersonic air travel between London, Paris and New York. Concord's French and British operators ultimately took the plane out of service in 2003, three years after the crash.