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Published on Friday, November 30, 2012

Concorde crash conviction overturned

Continental Airlines has won its appeal against a manslaughter conviction for its role in a Concorde crash 12 years ago that killed 113 people.

A French appeal court has cleared the airline and one of its mechanics of criminal blame for the Air France crash, which happened just after take off from Charles de Gaulle Airport.

Two years ago, another court had decided that a metal strip that had fallen from a Continental aircraft was to blame for the tragedy.

It found the Concorde had run over the piece of metal, which had torn a tire, sending debris into the aircraft's fuel tanks and causing the aircraft to burst into flames. It crashed into a hotel and other nearby buildings, killing everyone on board and four hotel workers.

Continental was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, fined €200,000 (£160,000) and ordered to pay €1 million in damages to Air France.

The Continental mechanic, who had originally fitted the piece of metal, was given a 15-month suspended prison sentence.

But Continental had always argued against the ruling, saying the fire had started before the Concorde hit the debris and claiming it was being blamed to protect France's airline industry.

Yesterday's ruling has quashed the fine and the mechanic's sentence, but the court ruled that Continental still bore civil responsibility for the crash and upheld the €1 million damages pay-out.

Continental's parent firm, United Continental Holdings, said: "This was a tragic accident and we support the court's decision that Continental did not bear fault. We have long maintained that neither Continental nor its employees were responsible for this tragic event and are satisfied that this verdict was overturned."

Most of the 109 passengers killed were German tourists on their way to New York to join a Caribbean cruise.



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