A Paris appeals court ruled on Wednesday that Air France and aircraft manufacturer Airbus should stand trial for criminal manslaughter following a deadly 2009 crash in which all 228 passengers and crew died when the jetliner plummeted into the Atlantic.
The ruling overturns a 2019 decision by a lower court to drop charges against both companies that had been described as “inexplicable” by a charity helping the families of the victims.
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. A 2012 investigation concluded that the accident had been caused when the pitot tubes (which measure airspeed) iced over during the flight.
The crash is the deadliest in the history of Air France and bereaved families have long called for a criminal probe into the accident. Both Air France and Airbus said they would appeal Wednesday’s decision.
In a statement, Air France said it “maintains that it committed no criminal fault at the root of this tragic accident”. A spokesperson for Airbus said the court’s decision did not “reflect in any way the conclusions of the investigation”.
The investigation found that the pilots caused an aerodynamic stall when they tried to correct the fault with the pitot tubes. Air France did not train its pilots how to deal with a high-altitude stall and the Captain was not in the flight deck at the time of the accident.
Prosecutors claim Airbus knew of problems with pitot tubes icing over as far back as 2004.
The French SNPL pilots union has backed a criminal probe claiming a trial is the only way that the full truth will be made public.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently used by some of the biggest names in journalism.