Airbus, Air France face trial over 2009 crash

Photo: EPA The 2009 crash killed 228 people.

A French court ruled that Airbus and Air France must face charges, related to the death of 228 people on board of plane that crashed in 2009 during a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, AFP reported. Flight AF447 crushed into the Atlantic Ocean during a storm on 1 June, 2009, the deadliest crash in the whole Air France history. Lawyers for Airbus immediately said that they would file an appeal.

It took almost two years to find the wreckage of the Airbus A330 jet, which was eventually located by remote-controlled submarines at a depth of 3,900 metres. Investigators determined the crash was caused by pilot errors, who were disorientated by faulty speed monitoring equipment. The general prosecutor's office is seeking a manslaughter trial against both Air France and Airbus, going beyond the Paris prosecutor's initial demand that only Air France face manslaughter charges.

Both prosecuting teams contest a 2019 decision to drop the charges by the two investigating magistrates assigned to the case, who said they could not ascribe fault to the companies in what appeared to be a case of pilot error. But prosecutors accuse Air France of indirectly causing the tragedy by providing insufficient training on how to react in case of malfunction of the Pitot tubes, which enable pilots to monitor their speed. The pilots reacted incorrectly when the plane stalled after the speed sensors froze over. Since the disaster, pilot training on dealing with unforeseen circumstances has been stepped up in France and several other countries.

"We are not seeking revenge but justice for the dignity of families and victims," Daniele Lamy, president of an association of victims' families, told AFP. "A certain form of impunity may lead to another catastrophe," she added.

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