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Continental Under Criminal Investigation For July 2000 Concorde Crash

Airline Will Fight Charges

French magistrate Christophe Regnard informed the airline Thursday that it was under investigation for manslaughter and injuries resulting from the July 2000 crash of the Concorde. At issue in the case is whether a titanium alloy wear strip on a Continental DC-10 was a legal replacement. The legal battles have only just begun as Continental attempts to avoid responsibility for the crash.

"During this procedure we will provide all the elements which are missing from the dossier and which show that Continental Airlines is not responsible for the Concorde crash," said Attorney for Continental, Olivier Metzner according to AFP.

The accident claimed 109 people on board the Concorde and 4 on the ground. The aircraft caught fire after a breached tire exploded during a departure from Charles de Gaulle airport. A titanium alloy strip that allegedly fell from a Continental DC-10 is being blamed for puncturing the Concorde's tire and setting the accident into motion. The subsequent break-up sent pieces of the wheel and tire into the fuel tank of the Concorde, igniting spilled fuel and creating an uncontained fire that contributed to the aircraft's inability to maintain flight.

"During this procedure we will provide all the elements which are missing from the dossier and which show that Continental Airlines is not responsible for the Concorde crash," said Metzner.

A December report indicated that the strip contributed to the accident, but that a weakness on the interior surface of the wings and fuel tanks also played a role. The report claimed that American aviation authorities did not approve the strip and "the rules of aeronautical metal construction were not respected by the employees of Continental Airlines."

According to Metzner, Continental Airlines vice president, Ken Burt said "the material was in perfect conformity and was stronger than the original material."

FMI: www.continental.com

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