- Title: FILE: French judge accuses US airline over Concorde crash
- Date: 4th July 2008
- Summary: (BN17) CHARLES DE GAULLE AIRPORT, FRANCE (FILE - JANUARY 18, 2001) (REUTERS) FRENCH CONCORDE TAKING OFF
- Embargoed: 19th July 2008 13:00
- Topics: Crime / Law Enforcement
- Reuters ID: LVA3DJ4BRR63PBISELI4TDGO5K3T
- Story Text: Continental Airlines and five individuals ordered to face trial over the 2000 Concorde crash in which 113 people died.
A French judge has ordered U.S. carrier Continental Airlines and five individuals to stand trial over the crash of an Air France Concorde that killed 113 people, a prosecutor's statement said on Thursday (July 3).
The judge said the defendants, including the man who oversaw the development of the Franco-British supersonic airliner, would be charged with involuntary manslaughter.
The Concorde crashed in flames minutes after take off from Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport on July 25, 2000, killing all 109 on board and four people on the ground.
Investigations concluded that the plane caught fire after one of its tyres was punctured by a small piece of metal that had fallen off a departing Continental flight, sending debris flying into the fuel tanks of the delta-winged plane.
Prosecutors say the metal strip had been incorrectly fitted to the Continental DC10 and was made of tough titanium metal, rather than regulation aluminium, which is softer and less likely to cause punctures.
Continental has denied responsibility for the crash and has said it would fight the charges.
Judges have issued an international arrest warrant for a welder named John Taylor, who worked for Continental at the time of the disaster, after he failed to appear for questioning. He and his supervisor, Stanley Ford, will both now stand trial.
Standing alongside them in the dock will be Henri Perrier, head of testing for Concorde before becoming director of the Concorde programme, and Jacques Herubel, the plane's chief engineer in the 1990s.
The fifth defendant was a former head of France's civil aviation authority, Claude Frantzen.
A judicial report on the crash said the Concorde's manufacturer Aerospatiale, now part of plane-maker EADS, had failed to correct its design after more than 70 incidents involving the plane's tyres occurred between 1979 and 2000.
Concorde's two operators, Air France and British Airways, eventually took the plane out of service in 2003.
French officials said earlier this year that any trial would need massive organisation and would probably not begin until late this year or early 2009.
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