A French judge has today decided to halt a criminal manslaughter case against flag-carrier Air France and European aerospace giant Airbus for a deadly 2009 crash that killed all 228 passengers and crew. On 1st June 2009, Air France flight AF447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris crashed into the Atlantic Ocean after the Airbus A330 aircraft stalled in mid-air.
Investigators from the French air accident department concluded in 2012 that the crash was caused by the pitot tubes (which measure airspeed) icing over inflight. The crash was the deadliest in the history of Air France and families of those killed in the accident have long called for a criminal probe into the incident.
Prosecutors had backed a manslaughter trial against the two companies, claiming that problems with the pitot tubes had been well documented and were first known about as far back as 2004. There were all serious questions asked of Air France which did not train its pilots how to deal with a high-altitude stall. At the time of the accident, the Captain was not in the flight deck.
In June, on the 10th anniversary of the accident, the main French pilots union again demanded a criminal trial saying that it was the only way that the whole truth of what led to the crash would ever be known.
The SNPL likened dropping charges against Airbus as absolving Boeing of all liability for two deadly crashes involving its 737MAX aircraft because the FAA had certified it as safe to fly.
The Director of the National Federation of Victims of Attacks and Crashes (FENVAC) described the judge’s decision as “inexplicable”. Neither Air France or Airbus has commented on the decision.