Flight AF447 Rio-Paris: Air France, Airbus to face trial?

Shutterstock / Rodrigo Bertoli

After ten years of investigation into the crash of flight AF447 from Rio to Paris, which killed 228 passengers and crew members on June 1, 2009, the investigating judges dismissed the manslaughter case against Air France and Airbus in September 2019. But both parties could still be sent to court, as requested by the General Prosecutor of Paris on January 27, 2021. 

On June 1, 2009, an Air France A330, registered F-GZCP, carrying out flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, killing all 228 people on board. The accident remains the worst Air France has ever suffered, and the deadliest involving an Airbus A330.

The final report of the French Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA), released in 2012, pointed at icing of the Pitot probes and incorrect pilot reactions as the main causes of the crash. In July 2019, the Public Prosecutor’s office had requested Air France to face trial alone and dismissed the case against Airbus, before the investigating judges ended up dropping all prosecution two months later.

The investigating chamber of the Paris Court of Appeal will now rule on March 4, 2021, on whether or not the manufacturer and the airline should be tried for “manslaughter”. Air France is accused of negligence in pilot training. “All of the technical analyzes, corroborated by hearings, highlight the inadequacy of training and information provided by the Air France company to its crews,” said the General Prosecutor office. 

As for Airbus, it is accused of underestimating “the danger of anemometric incidents resulting from the icing of the probes.” The manufacturer had been aware of the issue since 2004, according to a report made public by the families of victims.

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