Concorde Insurers Name Continental in French Lawsuit

La Réunion Aérienne, the insurance pool with primary coverage for losses resulting from the crash of the Concorde near Paris last July, has officially launched a recovery action against Continental Airlines as part of court proceedings in France.

While French accident investigators are continuing to probe the causes of the crash, it seems likely that the chain of events started when the Concorde hit a piece of metal on the runway while taking off. This in turn caused a tire to burst, and fragments to be sucked into one of the engines, causing an explosion and fire, which resulted in the loss of the aircraft and all 109 people on board.

The suspect piece has been tentatively identified as a part from the right wing engine of a Continental DC-10, and investigators established that a similar piece was missing from a Continental DC-10 which took off shortly before the Concorde, using the same runway.

If it can be definitively established that the metal strip came from the Continental plane, and that it was the proximate cause of the accident, Continental could be liable for at least a proportion of any damage award(s).

The company, while continuing to cooperate in the investigation, has denied responsibility, asserting that it remains unproven that the metal strip caused the tire to burst, and that even if it did, such an event should not have been able to cause the catastrophe which occurred. “There is a serious design flaw in the Air France Concorde if a blown tire can bring it down,” Continental said in a statement issued in October.