US airline Continental and one of its mechanics have been convicted of causing the Air France Concorde crash that killed 113 people 10 years ago.
The airline was ordered to pay Air France £914,000 for damaging its reputation, and fined £170,000.
The presiding judge ruled Continental and its employee were guilty of criminal negligence, confirming investigators’ long-held belief that titanium debris dropped by a Continental DC-10 onto the runway at Charles de Gaulle airport was to blame.
The debris cut the Concorde’s tyre, propelling bits of rubber into the fuel tanks and starting a fire.
The plane then slammed into a nearby hotel, killing all 109 people aboard and four others on the ground. Most of the victims were German tourists.
Ronald Schmid, a lawyer who has represented several of their families , said he was “sceptical” about the ruling.
The airline and mechanic John Taylor were also ordered to jointly pay more than £230,000 in damages to different civil parties.
Taylor was also given a 15-month suspended prison sentence, and a £1,700 fine. All other defendants – including three former French officials and Taylor’s now-retired supervisor Stanley Ford – were acquitted.
The court said Taylor should not have used titanium, a harder metal than usual, to build the wear strip that fell off the DC-10. He was also accused of improperly installing the piece that fell onto the runway on July 25, 2000,.
Continental’s lawyer, Olivier Metzner, confirmed the airline would appeal. He denounced a ruling that he called “patriotic” for sparing the French defendants and convicting only the Americans.