Continental Airlines found guilty over Concorde crash

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The Independent Online

America's Continental Airlines and one of its mechanics were today found guilty of criminal negligence in causing the French Concorde crash that killed 113 people 10 years ago.

A Paris court ruled that the company and mechanic John Taylor must pay fines over the July 2000 disaster.

Taylor was also given a 15-month suspended prison sentence. All other defendants were acquitted in the verdict.

Investigators said a Continental DC-10 dropped titanium debris on the runway at Charles de Gaulle airport before the Concorde took off.

The debris cut the Concorde's tyre, hurling bits of rubber into the fuel tanks and starting a fire.

The airline was fined 265,000 dollars (£170,000), and Taylor 2,650 dollars (£1,700).

Three former French officials also facing manslaughter charges were acquitted.

While France's aviation authority concluded the crash could not have been foreseen, a judicial inquiry said the plane's fuel tanks lacked sufficient protection from shock and said officials had known about the problem for more than 20 years.

The families of most of the crash victims were compensated years ago, so financial claims were not the trial's focus - the main goal was to assign responsibility. It is not uncommon for such cases to take years to reach trial in France.

Continental is now part of Chicago-based United Continental Holdings , which was formed in October as the holding company owner of United and Continental airlines, which will eventually be combined into a single airline.

The court also ordered Continental to pay Air France one million euros (£847,000).

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