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Court Rules That Air France and Airbus Are Not Liable for the Death of AF 447

French prosecutors considered it “impossible to demonstrate” the companies’ wrongdoing, which led to the final decision.

Charges related to a fatal Air France crash in 2009 have been dropped against Air France and Airbus. The French flag carrier and the world’s largest manufacturer both engaged in a number of reckless conduct, but the prosecution was unable to provide evidence of criminal negligence on their part.

The Airbus A330-200 with the registration F-GZCP, which was lost over the ocean in 2009 during a trip from Rio de Janeiro Galeo to Paris Charles de Gaulle, was the focus of the trial. The airline’s worst accident resulted in the deaths of all 216 passengers, nine cabin staff members, and three flight crew members.

The trial’s prosecutors eventually came to the conclusion that the pilots had been unable to handle their shock and tension after false readings from the pitot sensors sparked a flurry of alerts. The court argued that the firms were not liable since it was impossible to demonstrate that the sensors were defective.

An exoneration verdict

A civil trial that took place between October and December of last year led to the decision. The public prosecutors’ office argued that the defendants should be cleared at the conclusion of the case since it was impossible to establish that either corporation was at fault. The public prosecutor’s unusual and non-binding decision to not press for a conviction was noted by the panel of judges presiding over the trial.

According to the court, Airbus committed “four acts of imprudence or negligence,” including failing to replace particular pitot tube models on the A330 and A340 fleet that had a propensity to freeze more frequently. Additionally, the maker was charged with “withholding information” from flight operators.

In addition, the court found that Air France had communicated the information note on the defective pitot sensors in two “acts of imprudence.” The court was unable to establish a strong enough direct connection between these shortcomings and the accident, however, to establish that an offense had been committed.

a lengthy wait

The final accident assessment from France’s Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety, which was released in July 2021, came to the conclusion that the accident had been principally brought on by pilot mistake after pitot tube technical failures. The airspeed calculation tubes, which are located outside the plane’s body, froze over during the flight, causing false speed signals that diverted the flight crew. The crew then failed to respond to the warning sirens in a timely manner.

Following the tragedy, the Public Prosecutors Office demanded that Air France be tried for manslaughter on the grounds that the airline had failed to adequately inform its pilots of the proper procedures. Pitot tubes had malfunctioned because of ice on earlier flights before the tragedy, and Airbus was accused of neglecting to notify airlines immediately of the issue.

After the tragedy, the sensors were eventually changed on Airbus aircraft all around the world.Lack of evidence led to the prosecution being dropped in 2019, but the victims’ relatives’ organisation, organisation entraide et solidarité vol AF447, challenged the decision. Air France and Airbus were required to stand trial for involuntary manslaughter after the Court of Appeal of Paris reversed the 2019 ruling in May 2021, setting the stage for last year’s trial.

At the time of the disaster, the aircraft was around four years old and had flown for almost 18,900 hours.

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