Why Did Charles de Gaulle Take a Fall?

DOMINIQUE BIDET, BRIGADE DES SAPEURS POMPIERS DE PARIS/ AP

AFTERMATH: Firefighters search the debris of the 2E passenger terminal.

When it opened to great fanfare just 11 months ago, terminal 2E at France's Charles de Gaulle airport was not only hailed as a stylish triumph of innovative yet practical design; the €750 million complex was supposed to transform Paris into "the most powerful hub in Europe, ahead of Frankfurt and London," boasted Air France CEO Jean-Cyril Spinetta. At full capacity, the terminal's twinned, 650-m-long main structures could handle 10 million passengers a year. Computerized baggage systems would transport luggage with minimal error, while travelers relaxed in the bright, spacious interiors of the tubular buildings. But today 2E is welcoming only...