A French appeals court on Thursday absolved Continental Airlines [corporate website] of blame and overturned the manslaughter conviction against one of its mechanics in relation to the Air France Concorde jet crash [BBC backgrounder] that killed 113 people just outside of Paris in 2000. Although the original ruling found that a piece of metal that fell off of the Continental plane and onto the runway had later caused the damage that led to the Concorde's crash, the appeals court declared [Reuters report] that John Taylor, the mechanic responsible for fitting the metal, could never have imagined that such a small component could cause such a disaster. While the metal part played a crucial role in the crash, opined the court, such a mistake does not carry with it criminal liability. Taylor was originally sentenced to a 15-month suspended sentence and a fine of USD $2,670 while Continental was ordered to pay Air France USD $1.44 million for damage to its reputation and fines of roughly USD $267,000.
Continental Airlines and Taylor were originally convicted [JURIST report] by a lower French court in 2010. Their trial, which began [JURIST report] in February 2010, was met with criticism [Daily Mail report] for starting a decade after the accident occurred and after victims' families had already received settlements in 2001. Following the crash, the French Bureau of Investigations and Analysis [official website, in French] concluded [report, in French, PDF] in 2004 that the crash was caused by a metal strip that fell from the Continental Airlines flight and pierced the Concorde's tire. The Concorde jet, which was officially retired by all airlines in 2003, killed 113 people when Air France flight 4590 crashed into a hotel shortly after takeoff in July 2000.