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Concorde crash: US mechanic and Continental guilty, says French court

Continental Airlines and an American mechanic were convicted of manslaughter and fined for the 2000 Concorde crash. But none of the French defendants were found guilty.

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Air France Concorde flight 4590 crashed shortly after take-off on July 25, 2000. Investigators argued that the jet never would have crashed if a Continental Airlines DC-10 hadn't dropped a piece of titanium onto the runway minutes before.

Toshihiko Sato/AP/File

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Continental Airlines Inc. and one of its mechanics were convicted in a French court of manslaughter Monday because debris from one of its planes caused the crash of an Air France Concorde jet that killed 113 people a decade ago.

The Houston-based airline was ordered to pay Air France 1.08 million euros ($1.43 million) for damaging its reputation, in addition to a fine of around 200,000 euros ($265,000). The victims of the crash were mostly German tourists.

The presiding judge confirmed investigators' long-held belief that titanium debris dropped by a Continental DC-10 onto the runway at Charles de Gaulle airport before the supersonic jet took off on July 25, 2000, was to blame. Investigators said the debris gashed the Concorde's tire, propelling bits of rubber into the fuel tanks and sparking a fire.

RELATED: What caused the 2000 Concorde crash?

The plane then slammed into a nearby hotel, killing all 109 people aboard and four others on the ground.

Ronald Schmid, a lawyer who has represented several families of the German victims, said he was "skeptical" about the ruling.
"It bothers me that none of those responsible for Air France were sitting in the docks," he told The Associated Press by phone from Frankfurt.

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