The worst French air catastrophe is still fresh in memory. Justice is likely to be served this Monday, April 17 as the people responsible for the crash of Rio-Paris in 2009 will be taken into task. European manufacturers Airbus and French Air France, convicted of involuntary manslaughter, deny responsibility for the accident and will be fined €225,000.
Flight AF447, the official name of the deadly flight that took the life of all of its 216 passengers aboard it as well as its 12 crew members, as it was crossing the Atlantic Ocean to reach Rio de Janeiro from Paris on the 1st of June 2009. The plan consisted of 33 nationalities, 72 French, 58 Brazilians and 26 German nationals.
The first debris and bodies were found the next day. But the wreck was only discovered two years later after a lengthy search among the high undulations of 3,900-meter-deep seabed. Black Box confirmed that the cause of the accident was icing on the Pitot airspeed probe while cruising through difficult weather conditions in the doldrums near the equator. One of his pilots, who became unstable as a result of this failure, took an upward trajectory, and the three crew members were unable to regain control of the aircraft, taking much longer than the time needed to react. As a result, the flight went straight to the deepest part of the ocean at night, exactly 4 minutes and 23 seconds later.
Four days after the accident, on June 5, 2009, a judicial investigation was opened in Paris against the two manufacturing giants for “involuntary homicides”. The Bureau of Investigation and Analysis (BEA) has announced that before disaster struck the plane sent 24 automatic anomaly messages in four minutes, which told that an inconsistency in the speeds measured by the Pitot probes tubes present on the plane, a device which makes it possible to determine the speed the plane is flying at.
Nearly two years after the air disaster, Airbus and Air France were indicted for manslaughter on March 17 and 18, 2011. After the launch of a new phase of research, part of the aircraft cabin was located on April 2. The black boxes have been found in the water on May 1st and 2nd. Body recovery operations ended on June 7th. Since June 2009, 154 bodies have been recovered.
On 17 July 2019, the Paris Public Prosecutor's Office requested criminal prosecution against Air France for alleged "negligence" and "recklessness", but considered the charges against him insufficient. According to an unpublished report filed in court by the victim's family on Sept. 1, it was claimed that Airbus was aware of Speed's sensor weaknesses since 2004. However, the reviewing judge handed down general dismissal to Airbus and Air France.
During the hearing, the court questioned experts, gendarmes, pilots and air traffic control officials, trying to understand not only the reaction of the crew in the cockpit, but also the dangers of the various pitot probes of the time. After the catastrophe, the Airbus-powered model of flight AF447 was replaced around the world. The drama that shaped the pilot and his community led not only to stress on the crew, but also to further technical modifications and increased stall training.
The debate was highly professional and at times tense, between civil society and Airbus representatives accused of "disrespecting" the victims. During the five and a half days, some relatives also spoke out, paying tribute to the deceased and explaining the irreparable damage the accident had done to their lives.
European manufacturer Airbus and company Air France, charged with manslaughter after the crash of the AF447 Rio Paris flight that killed 228 people in 2009 were released in Paris on Monday, April 17.
Edited by : Ritaja Kar
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