French Court Ruling

This week a French court ruled that Continental Airlines and Continental Airlines technician John Taylor were guilty of involuntary manslaughter for their respective roles in the Air France Concorde accident. Some of you may have been following the trial which began earlier in the year relating to the crash of an Air France Concorde nearly 10 years ago. You can read all about it on a variety of aviation news sources including AMTOnline. Continental Airlines spokesman Nick Britton summed it up very well in a Houston Chronicle article by saying, "Portraying the metal strip as the cause of the accident and Continental and one of its employees as the sole guilty parties shows the determination of the French authorities to shift attention and blame away from Air France, which was government-owned at the time and operated and maintained the aircraft, as well as from the French authorities responsible for the Concorde's airworthiness and safety." One can argue it appears this ruling was driven by politics rather than the clear, factual, unbiased results from an investigation – and I agree it does appear that way. Fact is aviation and aircraft maintenance is a global industry. But will criminal liability in another country now become a factor for the aircraft maintenance professional to consider each time he or she signs-off a task or return to service a part, component, or aircraft? What result will this precedent setting decision have on our next generation’s interest in aviation as a career? This ruling could have bad consequences for the industry. On a different subject, the efforts by the aircraft maintenance community appear to have impacted the FAA enough for them to extend the comment period for NPRM Docket number 2010-1060 regarding IA renewals. Continue to submit your comments and alternative solutions to the FAA. Keep ‘em flying, Ron