Air France and Airbus should be tried for manslaughter for their role in a 2009 accident in the Atlantic which left 228 people dead, the Paris Court of Appeal ruled on Wednesday.
The ruling overturns the 2019 decision not to sue either company for the crash, in which pilots lost control of the Airbus A330 plane after ice blocked its speed sensors.
The families of the victims hailed the decision, but Airbus and Air France said they would seek to overturn it before the Court of Cassation, France’s highest court of appeal.
“The court ruling just announced does not in any way reflect the findings of the investigation,” Airbus said in an emailed statement.
Air France “affirms not to have committed any criminal fault at the origin of this tragic accident”, declared a spokesperson for the carrier, which is part of Air France-KLM.
Air France flight AF447 between Rio de Janeiro and Paris crashed on June 1, 2009, killing everyone on board.
French investigators noted that the crew had mismanaged the situation resulting from the loss of speed data from the sensors blocked by the ice and caused an aerodynamic stall by holding the nose of the aircraft too high.
The earlier decision not to go to court sparked legal challenges from families as well as pilots’ unions and prosecutors who had filed a complaint against Air France alone.
Wednesday’s decision upheld the two companies’ new lawsuit requests from senior prosecutors who accused Air France of pilot training failures and Airbus of underestimating the dangers posed by known issues with speed sensors. .
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