Airbus, Air France face criminal trial over 2009 Rio-Paris crash

AP , Monday 10 Oct 2022

Airbus and Air France go on trial on manslaughter charges Monday over the crash of a Rio-Paris flight in 2009 that plunged into the Atlantic amid thunderstorms, killing all 228 people aboard and leading to changes in air safety regulations.

Air France debris
File Photo: Divers recovering part of the tail section from the Air France A330 aircraft that crashed in midflight over the Atlantic ocean while flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, on June 8, 2009. AFP


The worst plane crash in Air France history killed people of 33 nationalities, and families from around the world are among the plaintiffs in the case. They have fought for more than a decade to see the case come to trial.

The investigation found multiple factors contributed to the crash of Flight 447. The trial is expected to focus on pilot error, and the icing over of external sensors called pitot tubes.

An Associated Press investigation at the time found that Airbus had known since at least 2002 about problems with the type of pitots used on the jet that crashed, but failed to replace them until after the crash. Air France is accused of not having provided sufficient training to deal with problematic pitots.

The companies say they are not criminally responsible. Air France has already compensated the families of those killed.

The A330-200 plane disappeared from radars over the Atlantic Ocean between Brazil and Senegal with 216 passengers and 12 crew members aboard. It took two years to find the plane and its black box recorders on the ocean floor, at depths of more than 13,000 feet.

The accident later prompted changes in how pilots are trained and new regulations on airspeed sensors.

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