WAS an abandoned scrap of metal on the runway really the main culprit in the fiery crash of an Air France Concorde shortly after takeoff?
That finding, insisted upon by French investigators for a decade, will be scrutinised and debated in a long-awaited trial starting today. Prosecutors argue that the supersonic passenger jet never would have crashed in July 2000 – killing 113 – if a Continental Airlines DC-10 hadn’t dropped a piece of titanium onto the Charles de Gaulle Airport runway just minutes before the Concorde soared into the sky.
Continental lawyer Olivier Metzner says the American airline is simply a convenient scapegoat. He will argue that a fire broke out on the Concorde eight seconds before it even reached the titanium strip.
The trial is expected to last four months as the court in Pontoise, north of Paris, tries to pin down who should be held criminally responsible for the crash, which killed 109 people on the plane and four people on the ground.
Continental Airlines, and two of its employees are on trial for manslaughter.
Three former French officials also face charges; judicial investigators say they had long failed to fix the Concorde’s vulnerable spots.
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