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Trial begins over French Concorde crash

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Trial begins over French Concorde crash


The US airline Continental and five individuals have gone of trial accused of manslaughter over the Air France Concorde crash near Paris ten years ago.

A total of 113 people died in the accident.

But only a few of the victims’ families will be represented at the hearings.

Most of the others took compensation from Air France after the crash in return for not taking legal action.

Nevertheless, the company’s lawyer is in doubt where fault lies for the crash.

Air France lawyer, Fernand Garnault: “The people from Continental, I think they won’t be condemned (to jail)…they haven’t done any wilful misconduct. But Continental should be condemned with a fine or whatever because they are, at the beginning, they are liable.”

An official inquiry concluded that a 43-centimetre titanium repair strip that had fallen from a Continental plane onto the runway punctured the departing Concorde’s tyre, sending debris crashing into the supersonic jet’s fuel tank.

Leaking kerosene then caught fire, causing the plane to crash into a motel two minutes after take-off.

But Continental claims the Concorde was already on fire before it hit the piece of metal.

“I question the independence of the French air accidents investigators. I question those who didn’t want the truth. I question Air France. It’s obvious that on the 25 July 2000 Concorde should never have been given permission to take off,” said Olivier Metzner, lawyer for Continental Airlines.

Two Continental engineers are charged with breaking safety rules by fitting the titanium strip.

The other defendants are accused of knowing about existing weaknesses in Concorde’s tyre and fuel tank design but failing to act.

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