Will there one day be a lawsuit against Air France and Airbus for the Rio-Paris flight crash in 2009?
The general prosecutor's office and the families of the victims will try Thursday to convince the Paris Court of Appeal to cancel the dismissal granted to the airline and the manufacturer.
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The court's decision, which will not be known for several weeks, will be the result of debates to be held behind closed doors on Thursday in front of the investigating chamber, nearly twelve years after the disappearance of flight AF447.
On June 1, 2009, the Airbus A330 connecting Rio de Janeiro to Paris crashed in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
All passengers and crew, 228 people of 34 nationalities, had died in this accident, the deadliest in the history of the French company.
In August 2019, after ten years of investigation and battle of experts on the causes of the disaster, the investigating judges had ordered the end of the prosecution against Airbus and Air France, indicted for "
" since 2011 .
This decision had aroused the anger and amazement of the families of the victims, already disappointed by the position of the Paris prosecutor's office, which had requested a trial against the company alone.
But the public prosecutor's office, hierarchical superior of the public prosecutor's office, and the civil parties are this time in unison: in its written requisitions, unveiled in January by Le Parisien, the public prosecutor decided in favor of a trial against the two companies.
We were beginning to despair and we now see the possibility of a trial,
" commented with caution Danièle Lamy, president of the association Entraide et Solidarité AF447, on the eve of this hearing.
Me Alain Jakubowicz, one of the lawyers of the association, which brings together almost all of the relatives of French victims, had welcomed in January "
very valuable legal and moral support
" from the general prosecutor's office.
At this stage, it is not a question of ruling on the guilt of Airbus or Air France, but on the clues that justify there being a trial.
This is all the families are asking for: that there be an adversarial debate
, ”he stressed.
The two companies did not wish to comment on these requisitions.
In their order of dismissal of August 29, 2019, the investigating magistrates had considered that this accident was explained "
obviously by a conjunction of elements which had never occurred, and which therefore highlighted dangers which do not exist. 'could have been perceived before
The investigations "
did not lead to characterizing a culpable breach by Airbus or Air France in connection (...) with the piloting errors (...) at the origin of the accident
", they had estimated. .
According to expert reports, the in-flight icing of Pitot speed probes had led to an irregularity in the speed measurements of the Airbus A330 and disoriented the pilots until the aircraft stalled.
The public prosecutor, for its part, considers that the company has "
committed negligence and recklessness
" by not providing its pilots with sufficient information on the procedure to be adopted in the event of anomalies linked to the probes, which make it possible to control the speed of the aircraft, after several similar incidents in the previous months.
As for Airbus, the general prosecutor's office considers that the manufacturer has underestimated "
the dangerousness of anemometric incidents resulting from the icing of the probes
", according to Le Parisien.
After the indictments of Air France and Airbus in 2011, the investigations were extended by a battle between experts, contested by the civil parties because they come from the world of aeronautics and suspected of corporatism.
While a first report in 2012 had concluded to crew failures, technical problems and a lack of information from pilots on the icing of the probes, a second opinion, requested by the manufacturer, had pointed to a "
reaction inappropriate behavior
”and Air France's shortcomings.
The civil parties had obtained the cancellation of this second expertise and the reopening of the investigation.
But a third and final assessment, in 2017, also focused on “
unsuitable manual piloting actions
” by the crew and tended to clear Airbus.
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