A lawsuit will begin in Paris on Monday against Air France and plane maker Airbus. Both companies are suspected of manslaughter in the 2009 plane crash that killed all 228 people on board. This is what the case is about.
An Airbus A330 was en route from Brazil to Paris on July 1, 2009. Over the Atlantic, the plane was hit by a storm and there was severe turbulence. The plane disappeared from the radar without the pilots sounding the alarm. The plane crashed into the sea.
It was not clear for a long time what went wrong with Flight AF447. It took two years to recover the bodies, debris, and cockpit recorders. Only then can the investigation into the accident begin.
Investigators found that the pilots made mistakes. They did not respond properly when the monitors in the cockpit showed the wrong speed. It was due to the speedometers freezing. The autopilot also went out.
It was difficult to place the black boxes of the plane on the roof. It was located at the bottom of the sea at a depth of 4000 meters.
Pilots were confused by the scales in the cockpit. They said “we’re losing speed” and “I don’t know what’s going on”. This can be heard on the audio recording from the cockpit. Then the plane lost a lot of speed. As a result, she could no longer fly properly and fell out of the sky.
According to investigators, the pilots were not properly trained. They did not know how to deal with the case of broken speedometers.
The families of the victims believe that Air France and Airbus are responsible for the accident. Air France should have prepared the pilots better. Airbus knew that speedometers sometimes freeze. Other pilots had already reported this problem prior to the accident. Both Air France and Airbus deny they were negligent.
Portions of the disaster flight are displayed in an aircraft hangar in Brazil.
For Air France and Airbus, all they have to lose is reputation. Both risk a fine of 225 thousand euros. This is only a fraction of what these billion dollar companies earn annually.
For the bereaved, it is primarily about justice. For example, they have already received compensation from Air France and Airbus. Moreover, the lawsuit in and of itself is a victory for families. The judges decided in 2019 to leave the case standing. On appeal, a Paris court ruled that the trial must continue after all. This is the first time that French companies have had to appear in court because of a plane crash. This makes the process historic.
Today, the same kind of crash should never happen again. After the AF447 flight accident, speedometers were replaced all over the world. The training courses for pilots have also been modified.
The case has multiple hearings and will run until December 8.
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