French Court Blames U.S. Mechanic In Concorde Crash
John Taylor, a Continental Airlines worker who installed a piece of titanium on a DC-10 that later allegedly fell off and punctured a tire on a Concorde jet, was found guilty on Monday of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to 15 months jail time by a French court. The suspended sentence is "absurd," Continental said in a statement. "We strongly disagree with the court's verdict regarding Continental Airlines and John Taylor and will of course appeal this absurd finding," the statement read. The court also fined the airline $268,000 and ordered it to pay $1.3 million to Air France. Taylor's former supervisor and three French officials were also tried on charges of involuntary manslaughter, but were found not guilty.
On July 25, 2000, the Continental DC-10 took off from the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris just before the Concorde. Prosecutors said Taylor had improperly installed the titanium strip, and it fell to the runway, where it punctured a tire on the Concorde, leading to a ruptured fuel tank and a fiery crash. All 109 passengers and crew on the Concorde, along with four people on the ground, were killed. Lawyers for Continental argued that the Concorde design was inherently flawed and the aircraft was on fire before it hit the debris. "Portraying the metal strip as the cause of the accident, and Continental and one of its employees as the sole guilty parties, shows the determination of the French authorities to shift attention and blame away from Air France, which was government-owned at the time and [which] operated and maintained the aircraft, as well as from the French authorities responsible for the Concorde's airworthiness and safety," said Nick Britton, a Continental spokesman based in the U.K.