A French judge has ordered Continental Airlines and five individuals to stand trial on charges arising from the crash of an Air France Concorde that killed 113 people in 2000.
The defendants include two employees of the U.S. carrier, two employees of Aerospatiale, the company that made the supersonic Concorde, and a French aviation official. All are charged with manslaughter.
The Concorde crashed in flames shortly after takeoff from Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport on July 25, 2000, killing all 109 people on board and four on the ground.
French investigators said a strip of metal that fell off a Continental jet shredded one of the Concorde’s tires as it sped down the runway toward takeoff. Debris punctured the swept-wing plane’s fuel tanks, triggering a fatal fire within seconds.
Continental has pledged to fight any charges in the case, which is expected to go to trial next year. The employees named in the case are the airline’s chief of maintenance and a mechanic. Also charged are two men who held senior positions in the Concorde design program for the British-French consortium Aerospatiale, which is now part of EADS aerospace group, and the former director of technical services at the French civil aviation authority (DGAC).
The crash in 2000 was a factor in the subsequent decision to remove all Concorde jets from service three years later. The first commercial passenger plane to fly faster than the speed of sound, the Concorde was flown by Air France and British Airways from 1976-2003.