The criminal trial of five people charged with responsibility for the 25 July 2000 crash of an Air France Aerospatiale/British Aerospace Concorde near Paris Charles de Gaulle airport began on 2 February at Pontoise, north of Paris.

If convicted, the men could be charged with manslaughter and face fines and/or a prison sentence. Historically, however, in cases like this any prison sentences have usually been suspended. The judge says the case is likely to take four months because the court has 80,000 pages of evidence to consider.

The accused are Continental Airlines mechanic John Taylor and his supervisor at the airline, maintenance chief Stanley Ford. They are charged with ignoring proper engineering procedures in preparing a strip of titanium needed for a repair to an engine intake on one of the carrier's McDonnell Douglas DC-10s.

This DC-10 took off from the same runway just before Concorde and, according to the technical accident investigation, the titanium strip detached, fell on to the runway, and caused the Concorde tyreburst that the investigators say led to the fuel tank breach and fire that brought the aircraft down.

The others in the dock are Henri Perrier, former head of the Concorde programme at Aerospatiale from 1978 to 1994, and Jacques Herubel, a senior Aerospatiale Concorde specialist from 1993 to 1995.

They are accused of failing to ensure the fuel tanks were sufficiently damage resistant. Finally, Claude Frantzen of the French aviation authority the DGAC, is charged with failing in his responsibility for Concorde's safety oversight during its service life.

Source: Flight International