Former Concorde official probed over fatal crash
PARIS, Sept 27 (AFP) - A former head of the Concorde division at France's Aerospatiale has been placed under judicial investigation over the fatal July 2000 crash of a Concorde jetliner near Paris, legal sources said Tuesday.
Henri Perrier was questioned for 11 hours until the early hours of Tuesday by investigating judge Christophe Regnard, who has to decide whether to press formal charges.
He was placed under formal investigation, a first step to possible charges, for involuntarily causing death and injury.
All 109 passengers and crew and four people on the ground were killed when the Air France Concorde caught fire on take-off from Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris.
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 to have known about a design fault in the wing since 1979 and an incident involving a Concorde in Washington, but failed to rectify it.
A French accident inquiry concluded in December that the prime cause of the crash was a titanium strip which had fallen off a US Continental Airlines plane on to the runway.
The titanium strip shredded one of the Concorde’s tyres as the supersonic airliner took off, sending heavy chunks of rubber through a fuel tank located in a wing and setting it alight.
However a separate experts’ report sent to the investigating magistrate in August, seen by AFP, also said the design fault was a contributing factor.
It made serious criticisms of Aerospatiale and two French official bodies for failing to react appropriately to the problem.
Aerospatiale identified the problem but “the practical measures taken (were) inadequate to resolve the risks revealed,” the report said.
Perrier made no comment when he emerged from questioning accompanied by his lawyers.
Earlier this year, Regnard also placed Continental Airlines and one of its mechanics, John Taylor, under investigation on similar counts of involuntarily causing death and injuries.
An international arrest warrant was issued against Taylor, who allegedly fitted the non-standard titanium strip to the US airline’s DC-10. He failed to show up in France for questioning on June 17 as required.
Continental has pledged to fight any charges that may ensue. A successful prosecution would result in millions of euros in damages against the airline.
Regnard is due to question three other former Aerospatiale employees later this week and in October, as well as three ex-officials of France’s aviation authority.
Subject: French news