French court reopens 2009 Air France flight 447 accident case

A330-200 aircraft crashed into the Atlantic Ocean with 228 people on board while flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris

The most serious accident in the history of Air France, the flight AF 447, between Rio de Janeiro and Paris on June 1, 2009, will be judged again by the French Court in the coming days.

The Paris Criminal Court will hold a correctional trial between October 10 and December 8 in order to determine whether Air France and Airbus are responsible for the accident, contrary to what had been found in 2019.

The lawsuit was requested by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, which accuses Air France of ignoring the “severity level of the multiple incidents of loss of speed indication that took place on fifteen other flights between May 2008 and May 2009”.

Prosecutors also accuse Airbus of having “underestimated the dangerousness of anemometric incidents following the freezing of probes”. In other words, the effect of air pressure and velocity when the aircraft’s pitot tubes stopped working because of the very low temperature.

The accident occurred in the early hours of June 1, 2009 in the South Atlantic (FAB)

Unforeseen situation

Flight AF447 departed Galeão Airport with 216 passengers and 12 crew at 7:30 pm on May 31. The aircraft, an A330-200 registration F-GZCP, which had been manufactured in 2005, began to face heavy turbulence around 2 am on June 1, when it was over the Atlantic off northern Brazil.

After several unsuccessful attempts to stabilize the aircraft, the A330 hit the ocean at around 2:15 am, sinking shortly thereafter and killing all the people.

The final report from BEA, the French aviation safety office, pointed out that the pitot tubes had frozen, interrupting the correct speed reading, which disoriented the pilots. The cause for the crash would have included crew errors and added technical factors.

Initially, the French magistrates considered that the accident had no similar in aviation, which prevented correct actions to be taken to avoid it. The charges against Airbus and Air France were filed in 2019, ten years after the accident.


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