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Airbus, Air France requested to stand trial for manslaughter over 2009 crash

written by Hannah Dowling | January 28, 2021

F-GZCP, the aircraft conducting flight AF447, pictured two years before the crash (Wikicommons)

A French public prosecutor has reportedly requested that European planemaker Airbus and French flag carrier Air France stand trial on charges of manslaughter over a plane crash that killed 228 people in 2009.

The case involves the crash of Air France flight AF447, an Airbus A330 (registration F-GZCP) bound for Paris from Rio de Janeiro, which crashed into the Atlantic ocean on 1 June 2009, killing all passengers and crew onboard.

The crash occurred three hours and 45 minutes after it took off from Brazil, and is believed to have been brought on after the plane entered icy weather conditions, which affected the aircraft’s instrumentation.

French investigators found the crew of AF447 mishandled the loss of speed readings from sensors blocked with ice from the storm, and caused the aircraft to stall by holding its nose too high.

The plane never recovered from the stall and crashed into the ocean.

Since 2011, both Air France and Airbus have been investigated on criminal charges for the event.

In July 2019, judges in France dropped charges against Airbus, while continuing to pursue Air France for manslaughter and negligence, stating “the airline was aware of technical problems with a key airspeed monitoring instrument on its planes but failed to train pilots to resolve them”.


However, the case against Air France was dropped later that year when magistrates said, “there were not enough grounds to prosecute”.

However, a Parisian newspaper, Le Parisien, has now reported that the Paris prosecutor has recommended reinstating manslaughter charges against both companies.

The Parisian prosecutor stated that there were “blameworthy infringements” on the part of Air France in relation to insufficient crew training, as well as Airbus, reportedly underestimating the risks posed by ice on the plane’s instruments.

Neither Airbus nor the Paris prosecutors office have made comment on the matter.


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