I can’t say that I am surprised by the decision:
PONTOISE, France – Continental Airlines and one of its mechanics were convicted of manslaughter Monday by a French court, which ruled that debris from a Continental plane caused the crash of an Air France Concorde jet that killed 113 people a decade ago.
The panel of judges fined Continental euro202,000 ($268,000) and John Taylor, its mechanic living in the United States, euro2,000 ($2,650). Taylor also was given a 15-month suspended prison sentence. Both said they will appeal.
Recently, I mentioned that I watched (and loved) the Concorde documentary on the Smithsonian Channel and the program took time to explore the theory that titanium debris from a Continental DC-10 on the CDG runway caused the horrible crash that killed 113 people and marked the beginning of the end for the Concorde program. Like Continental’s lawyer, Olivier Metzner, I think that patriotism and politics played into the court’s ruling:
Continental Airlines Inc.’s lawyer, Olivier Metzner, criticized the Pontoise court outside Paris for what he called a "patriotic" decision — blaming an American company while acquitting French officials accused of ignoring design flaws in the elegant Concorde, a jet that could fly at twice the speed of sound and was the pride of European aviation…All other defendants in the case — including three former French officials and Taylor’s now-retired supervisor Stanley Ford — were acquitted.
Even if we assume that debris from the Continental DC-10 gashed the Concorde’s tire, propelling bits of rubber into the fuel tanks and sparking a fire, Concorde’s fuel tanks lacked sufficient protection from shock and this problem was known for more than 20 years. Plus, evidence suggests a fire might have broken out on the Concorde before it reached the disputed debris. To place all the blame on Continental strikes me as highly suspicious and problematic.
Naturally, the ruling is being appealed. Let’s hope justice is served in the next round.
Full story here.