Airbus and Air France trial for Flight 447 crash enters its final stretch

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After eight weeks of hearings, the trial for the crash of flight 447 between Rio de Janeiro and Paris against the manufacturer Airbus and the airline Air France faces its final stretch on Wednesday with the closing arguments of the French public prosecutor’s office.

On June 1, 2009, an Air France Airbus A330 plunged into the Atlantic Ocean, almost four hours after takeoff from Rio de Janeiro. Its 216 passengers and 12 crew members lost their lives in this tragedy.

“Your court will have to bring out the truth, the truth of justice, which will have to bring out or not the criminal responsibility of Air France and Airbus,” prosecutor Marie Duffourc told a packed courtroom at the Paris Correctional Court, AFP reported.

Korean Air to check Airbus A330 fleet.

Although the judges dismissed the case in 2019, the families of the victims and the pilots’ unions appealed and, in May 2021, the justice system sent both companies to trial for involuntary manslaughter.

The second prosecutor, Pierre Arnaudin, detailed the “contributing factors” to the accident, in order to determine whether Airbus and Air France made mistakes linked to the tragedy.

Both companies face a fine of 225,000 euros (about $230,000) each.

According to expert reports, the freezing of the Pitot speed probes caused a disturbance in the Airbus A330’s speed measurements, which disoriented the pilots until they lost control of the plane.

For the court of appeal, which reversed the dismissal of the case, Air France did not provide “appropriate training” or the “information” necessary for pilots to “react” to the technical failure.

Airbus is being prosecuted for “underestimating the seriousness” of the speed sensor failures, for not taking the necessary measures to inform the crews as a matter of urgency and for failing to train them effectively.

The failures of these probes multiplied in the months preceding the accident. After the accident, the model was changed worldwide.

The tragedy also prompted other technical modifications in the field of aeronautics and reinforced training for loss of altitude and crew stress.