Continental Airlines and one of its mechanics has been found guilty of criminal negligence in causing the French Concorde crash that killed 113 people in 2000.
A Paris court ruled that the U.S. and mechanic John Taylor were guilty of involuntary manslaughter for safety failures on a DC10 aircraft that left debris on the runway before the Air France Concorde took off in flames from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport.
It crashed minutes later, and the disaster signalled the end of the first era of commercial supersonic flight.
The airline was fined 265,000 dollars. Taylor was also given a 15-month suspended prison sentence and fined $2,650. 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.
France’s aviation authority concluded that the crash could not have been foreseen, but a judicial inquiry ruled that the plane’s fuel tanks lacked sufficient protection from shock and said officials had known about the problem for more than 20 years.
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.
Most families of those who died have been compensated but Fenvac, a French association that represents victims of accidents and was a civil party in the case.