Manslaughter charges sought on air crash
French judges have been asked to put Continental Airlines on trial for manslaughter over the crash of an Air France Concorde in 2000 that killed 113 people.
Prosecutors in Pontoise outside Paris requested that the US airline, two of its employees and two key men in the French aerospace industry be brought to trial.
The Concorde crashed shortly after takeoff from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport on 25 July 2000, killing all 109 people on board and four workers on the ground.
A French accident inquiry concluded in December 2004 that the disaster was partly caused by a strip of metal that fell on the runway from a Continental plane that took off just before the supersonic airliner.
The Concorde ran over the superhard titanium strip, which shredded one of its tyres, causing a blowout and sending debris flying into an engine and a fuel tank.
Prosecutors said John Taylor, a Continental mechanic who allegedly fitted the non-standard strip, and the airline's chief of maintenance Stanley Ford, should stand trial on charges of manslaughter and involuntarily causing injury.
Henri Perrier, 77, director of the first Concorde programme, and Claude Frantzen, 69, a former director of technical services at the civil aviation authority DGAC, were also cited on the same charges.
They were found responsible in connection with an alleged flaw in Concorde's wing, which investigators also found to have been part of the problem that led to the crash.
Mr Perrier was head of the Concorde programme at Aerospatiale, now part of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company, from 1978 to 1994.
He is suspected of having known about a design fault since 1979 but failed to rectify it.
But prosecutors requested that Concorde's former chief engineer Jacques Herubel be cleared of charges over the crash that shattered the plane's perfect safety record.
Judges at the Pontoise criminal court are expected to decide in the coming weeks whether to hold a trial, and proceedings could start as soon as late 2008.
Continental has pledged to fight any charges that may ensue. A successful prosecution would likely result in millions of euros in damages against the airline.
The Concorde crash began the process which led to all Concordes, both French and British, being put out of service.