3 Feb 2010

Concorde crash trial begins

9:15 am on 3 February 2010

The United States airline Continental and five individuals are on trial in France over the crash of an Air France Concorde in July 2000.

The jet took off in flames from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport and crashed minutes later, killing 113 people.

The presiding judge began the proceedings on Tuesday by reading the names of all those who died.

An official report said Concorde hit a metal strip from a Continental plane that had taken off earlier.

But Continental's lawyers say they can prove the supersonic jet caught fire before it struck the titanium strip.

Concorde flight 4590 crashed at 4.44pm (local time) on 25 July 2000 in the town of Gonesse, 6km southwest of Charles de Gaulle airport, hitting a hotel and killing four people there as well as all 109 on board.

The BBC reports most of the passengers were German tourists heading to New York to join a luxury cruise to the Caribbean. Nine French crew members also died.

The entire fleet was grounded for 18 months. Eventually all were retired in November 2003.