Disasters & Accidents

Air France, Airbus go on trial over 2009 crash

Paris, Oct 10 (EFE).- Air France and European firm Airbus went on trial in Paris Monday to face involuntary manslaughter charges over the 2009 crash of flight AF447, which plunged into the Atlantic Ocean en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, killing all 288 people on board.

The landmark trial in the French capital is due to last until December 8.

Among the 489 complainants is Carl de Vivo, 32, whose mother was killed in the tragedy.

“What we want is for Airbus and Air France to accept their guilt in this case. Our objective is to mitigate our pain a little, they should recognize that they did not manage the situation correctly, and they did not make the necessary (technical) modifications (to avoid the accident),” De Vivo told Efe ahead of the trial.

“What I feel today is a feeling of sadness, because it is a return to a sad past.”

The trial, presided over by judge Sylvie Daunis, comes 13 years after the crash and follows an extensive investigation that absolved the companies of responsibility, instead concluding that the pilots of the doomed aircraft were at fault.

However, relatives of the crash victims and French prosecutors successfully appealed the decision, opening the door for France’s flagship airline and the aerospace corporation to stand trial.

Air France CEO Anne Rigali and Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury were present at the trial opening on Monday.

An investigation by the French Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA) concluded that the accident on June 1, 2009 occurred after ice temporarily blocked airspeed sensors on the outside of the aircraft, an Airbus A330.

The pilots failed to activate the correct procedure and tried to gain altitude to fly over the storm, according to the BEA report.

Flight AF447 then entered a stall, although the pilots believed the plane was still climbing.

It crashed into the ocean some 1,150 kilometers from Brazil’s northeast coast.

All 216 passengers and 12 crew, comprising 33 nationalities, were killed in the crash.EFE

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