Air France, Airbus to stand trial over 2009 Rio-Paris plane crash
The Paris appeals court has ruled that Air France and Airbus must stand trial over the 2009 Rio de Janeiro-Paris flight that crashed killing all 228 people on board. The decision overturns a lower court’s decision to drop the case.
France’s flagship carrier and Europe's top aircraft maker will stand trial on charges of involuntary manslaughter in the deadliest crash in Air France’s history.
Flight AF447 left Rio de Janeiro on 1 June 2009, and plunged into the Atlantic Ocean during a storm, killing all 216 passengers and 12 crew.
The court followed the prosecutor's recommendation by sending both companies to trial, overturning a 2019 decision by a lower court to drop the case.
Lawyers for Airbus immediately said that they would appeal the ruling. Air France insisted that it had not “committed a criminal offense” and was considering appealing the decision.
Faulty equipment, disoriented crew
Investigators determined that the pilots were disoriented by the loss of speed readings when sensors on the Airbus A330 were blocked with ice from the storm. The crew was found to have mishandled the plane, holding its nose too high and causing it to stall.
Prosecutors in a previous case argued that Air France should be tried for “negligence and imprudence” in its pilot training.
During the appeal, prosecutors argued that both Air France and Airbus should be charged, as the crash was also due to Airbus’ "underestimating the gravity" of the failure of its speed sensors.
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