Court: Air France to Stand Trial Over Its Deadliest-Ever Crash

But it has vowed to appeal to France's highest court
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 12, 2021 9:35 AM CDT
Court: Air France to Stand Trial Over Its Deadliest-Ever Crash
In this Sunday, June 14, 2009 file photo shows workers unloading debris, belonging to crashed Air France flight AF447, from the Brazilian Navy's Constitution Frigate in the port of Recife, northeast of Brazil.   (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres, File)

(Newser) – A French court on Wednesday ordered Air France and plane maker Airbus to stand trial for involuntary manslaughter in the 2009 crash into the Atlantic Ocean of a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, which killed all 228 people aboard—the deadliest crash Air France has ever suffered, per the AFP. The two companies said they would appeal the decision, which overturns a 2019 ruling. Victims' groups in France and Brazil had pressed for a trial, maintaining the companies were at least partially responsible for the crash. Air France "maintains that it did not commit a criminal offense in this tragic accident and will be appealing to the French Court of Cassation," France's highest court, the carrier said in a statement, per the AP. Airbus said the decision "does not reflect in any way the conclusions of the investigation that led to the dismissal of the case in favor of Airbus."

To that end, the BBC reports that both companies were originally charged with manslaughter, but charges were dropped in 2019 "because there were not enough grounds to prosecute." Prosecutors then appealed to the Paris appeals court. Air France Flight 447 left Rio for Paris but crashed into the Atlantic on June 1, 2009. Later, one of history’s most ambitious and costly undersea search operations managed to find the plane’s flight recorders in the ocean's depths. The French accident investigation bureau found that external speed sensors had been frozen and produced irregular readings on the aircraft, which went into an aerodynamic stall. The captain also wasn’t in the cockpit, one of multiple problems that were identified.

(Read more Air France Flight 447 stories.)

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