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Fri, Nov 30, 2012

French Court Overturns Conviction In SST Accident

Judgments Against Continental, Mechanic John Taylor Reversed

A French appellate court has overturned involuntary manslaughter convictions against the former Continental Airlines and mechanic John Taylor stemming from a July 2000 accident involving an Air France Concorde SST. One-hundred-thirteen people were fatally injured when the plane caught fire on takeoff and went down in a residential area.

A French court had found both the airline and the mechanic guilty of involuntary manslaughter when it determined that a metal strip which had fallen from a Continental DC-10 had caused one of the SST's tires to rupture during its takeoff roll. Pieces of the tire were said to have punctured the fuel tanks, causing the fire

The New York Times reports that, while the appellate court did not challenge the lower courts findings, it said the manslaughter charge was unjustified. It upheld a payment of about $1.3 million to Air France for "damage to its image."

Taylor had been named in the suit for fabricating and using a titanium wear strip on the DC-10 during maintenance rather than one made of a softer metal, and of attaching it improperly to the airplane.

Olivier Metzner, an attorney representing UCA, said that the ruling "is the end of the Concorde affair."

William Voss, president of the Flight Safety Foundation, said that the aviation community would view the verdict with a sense of relief. "It reminds us that human error, regardless of the tragic outcome, is different than a crime," he told the paper.

(image from file)

FMI: www.unitedcontinentalholdings.com

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