Continental Airlines cleared of criminal responsibility in Concorde crash

(File photo) Concorde lands in Paris after its last transatlantic flight for Air France in 2003.

Story highlights

  • French appeals ruling upholds lower court decision in Concorde case
  • Court upholds a civil judgment against U.S. carrier
  • The Air France Concorde crash killed 113 people after a metal strip blew a tire
  • Investigators say the metal strip fell off of a Continental jetliner

A French appeals court on Thursday cleared Continental Airlines of criminal responsibility for the Air France Concorde crash that killed 113 people in 2000, but affirmed a civil judgment against the U.S. carrier.

Continental, which has since merged with United Airlines, had appealed a 2010 ruling that blamed the company and one of its mechanics for the crash of Flight 4590 shortly after takeoff from Paris.

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The appeals court upheld the findings of a lower court -- that a strip of metal that fell off a Continental jet was responsible for a chain of events that led to the crash. But the appeals court said a criminal conviction was not justified, CNN affiliate BFM-TV reported.

But because the appeals court agreed with the findings of what led to the crash, the U.S. airline must still pay more than $1.2 million (1 million euros) to Air France as ordered by the lower court, BFM-TV reported.

Read more: Continental Airlines and mechanic guilty in deadly Concorde crash

Air France has paid an unspecified sum in damages to the families of most of the victims of the only Concorde crash.

An investigation revealed that the Concorde jet struck a small strip of titanium and blew a tire during takeoff from Charles de Gaulle airport on July 25, 2000.

The blown tire scattered debris into the left wing and ruptured the fuel tank. The supersonic jet burst into flames and crashed into a hotel, killing 100 passengers, nine crew and four people on the ground.

The titanium strip allegedly fell off a Continental DC-10 which took off just before the Concorde. Judicial investigators said the strip was improperly installed on the DC-10 engine, prompting the charges against Continental.

Air France and British Airways stopped Concorde service in 2003 because the flights did not make money.