Air France and Airbus Cleared of Manslaughter Over 2009 Disaster

Air France

A Paris court has cleared Air France and Airbus of manslaughter over a 2009 disaster that killed 228 people.

The court found “no certain causal link” between the accident and any defects.

On June 1, 2009, Flight AF447 vanished in a storm over the Atlantic while flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris overnight. The stall warning sounded 75 times as the plane fell 11,500 metres in four minutes and 24 seconds.

Pitot tubes, the plane’s speed sensors, froze, cutting off the autopilot, confounding the crew, and starting a fatal cascade of events in the cockpit.

After a nine-week trial last year, the public prosecutors’ office said it was difficult to show either company’s guilt.

David Koubbi, a lawyer for several passengers’ families, called the verdict “incomprehensible”.

“It is a signal that you can kill 228 people in an air crash and nobody is at fault. The families that I represent are devastated, and this has prevented them from mourning their loved ones,” Koubbi said following the decision.

Koubbi added that while Air France and Airbus had been acquitted of criminal involvement, the court had concluded in the families’ favor in a separate civil action, ruling them jointly accountable for errors and allowing the victims’ families to recover damages. September will reveal compensation amounts.