Court rebuffs call to end Concorde crash trial

Associated Press / February 4, 2010

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PONTOISE, France - A French court yesterday rejected defense lawyers’ requests to call off the long-awaited trial on the crash of a Concorde supersonic jet, a decision clearing the way for four months of intense debate on who was to blame.

Continental Airlines Inc., two of its employees, and three longtime French aviation officials are on trial for manslaughter in the fiery July 25, 2000, crash of the jet, which plunged into a hotel soon after takeoff from Charles de Gaulle Airport, killing all 109 people aboard and four on the ground. The trial entered its second day yesterday.

Continental, based in Houston, is on trial because investigators say a Continental DC-10 dropped a piece of metal onto the runway minutes before the Concorde took off. They say the debris gashed the plane’s tire, sending pieces of rubber into the fuel tanks and sparking a fire. Continental says a fire broke out on the Concorde before it reached the debris.