French prosecutors have recommended that Air France face trial for manslaughter and negligence over the 2009 crash of a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris in which 228 people died.
Prosecutors concluded that Air France was aware of technical problems with a key speed-measuring instrument on its Airbus A330 plane, but had failed to inform or train pilots on how to resolve the issue, according to an investigation document seen by Agence France-Presse.
Footage of underwater search for crashed Air France plane released
Flight AF447 plunged into the Atlantic during a storm on 1 June 2009. A defect with the plane’ speed sensors, called pitot tubes, was found to be the cause of the crash.
It took two years to find the wreckage of the plane, which was eventually located off Brazil by remote-controlled submarines at a depth of 3,900 metres (13,000 ft).
The crash was the biggest loss of life in the history of the company and the search for the wreckage was the biggest ever organised by France.
The prosecutors recommended dropping the case against Airbus, despite demands from the families of victims that the aircraft manufacturer should also be held accountable for the crash.
Both companies had been charged with manslaughter in 2011.
Investigating magistrates must now decide whether to follow the recommendations of prosecutors and bring the case to trial.
Air France will also be able to appeal against any decision to bring the case to court.
A report from the French air crash investigator BEA in 2012 concluded that the ill-prepared crew had failed to react correctly when their Airbus stalled and lost altitude after the speed sensors froze up.
A report from French air crash investigator BEA in 2012 concluded that the ill-prepared crew had failed to react correctly when their Airbus stalled and lost altitude after the speed sensors froze up.
AF447 was flying through a storm over the south Atlantic when it disappeared. The plane was in a blackspot between air traffic control towers in Brazil and Senegal, but still sending automatic communication “pings” every 10 minutes. Four minutes and 23 seconds after its last ping, it vanished.
Black box data showed the aircraft’s pitot tubes had frozen, setting off a catastrophic chain of events in the cockpit. The pilots were confused and unaware they had stalled the plane – which was plummeting – until seconds before it plunged into the ocean at around 200km/h.
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