France’s national carrier and Europe’s top aircraft maker are to stand trial over the 2009 crash of a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris that killed all 228 people on board.
A Paris appeals court on Wednesday ruled that both Air France and Airbus must face a trial over the crash of an Airbus A330 jet in June 2009.
Flight AF447 was en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris when it plunged into the Atlantic Ocean during a storm — killing everyone on board.
Prosecutors challenge earlier ruling
The decision to go ahead with a manslaughter trial against both Air France and Airbus came at the request of the general prosecutor.
Initially, the Paris prosecutor’s demand had been that only Air France face manslaughter charges.
However, both teams had contested a 2019 decision by the two investigating magistrates to drop the charges.
The magistrates said they could not ascribe fault to the companies in what appeared to be a case of pilot error.
Investigators said the crash had also been caused by faulty speed monitoring equipment.
The probe team determined that the crew had mishandled loss of speed readings from sensors that had become blocked with ice. The pilots were said to have caused the aircraft to stall by holding its nose too high.
The black box from the flight was recovered almost two years later
Prosecutors accuse Air France of indirectly causing the tragedy by failing to provide the necessary training on how to react to the malfunction of so-called Pitot tubes, which allow pilots to monitor their speed.
Families welcome decision
“It’s a huge satisfaction to feel that we have finally been heard by the courts,” said Daniele Lamy, president of an association of victims’ families.
“We are not seeking revenge but justice for the dignity of families and victims,” Lamy told the AFP news agency. “A certain form of impunity may lead to another catastrophe,” she added.
Lawyers representing Airbus immediately said that they would lodge an appeal.
The wreckage of the Airbus A330 jet took two years to find. It was eventually located by remote-controlled submarines at a depth of 3,900 meters (13,000 feet).
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