BERLIN – Relatives of 75 German passengers who died in last year's crash of a supersonic Concorde jet outside Paris have accepted a hefty compensation offer, a lawyer for the families said Sunday.
"The settlement has been approved both by Air France and the relatives in recent days," lawyer Gerhart Baum said in a written statement.
Baum is part of a team representing about 400 relatives of the victims. In all, 99 of the 113 people killed in the July crash were German tourists.
It was unclear whether the settlement included Continental Airlines, which had also been involved in negotiations. Investigators believe a Continental jet may have been the source of a metal strip on the runway that could have contributed to the accident.
All involved have agreed to stay silent on the total sum. But Baum said that "in terms of the level, (the settlement) is oriented toward U.S. ideas of compensation."
"That means compensation payments on a scale that haven't been seen before will be made to the German relatives," Baum added. The offer involves compensation for emotional damage, which isn't normally covered under German law.
Payments should be made in June, he said.
A deal will avoid a nasty court battle in the United States, where lawyers had pledged to seek damages in the absence of a suitable offer. They claimed the case could be filed in the United States because the Concorde was bound from Paris to New York.
Attorney Ronald Schmid, another representative of the relatives, said the final settlement document should be finished in late May or early June.
"Our clients have accepted the offers," he said. "We're on the right track."
Investigators believe that a metal strip lying on the runway at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport gashed one of the Concorde's tires, flinging rubber debris toward fuel tanks and triggering a fuel leak and fire that brought the plane down last July.
Baum said the cause of the accident, although of interest to the relatives, "did not play a role in the compensation negotiations."
As well as Air France and Continental, the negotiations involved more than a dozen other companies "that may be implicated in the cause," Baum said.