Airbus, Air France Cleared Of Manslaughter Over AF447 Crash


The tail fin of Air France Flight AF447 is recovered from the Atlantic Ocean after a fatal crash in June, 2009.

Credit: Philippe De Poulpiquet/MAXPPP/Alamy Stock Photo

PARIS—A French court has cleared Air France and Airbus of involuntary manslaughter charges relating to the crash of Air France flight AF447 on June 1, 2009, while en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.

The Air France Airbus A330-200 plunged into the Atlantic amid stormy weather around four hours after take-off, killing all 228 passengers and crew on board.

The verdict comes nearly 14 years after the accident, and six months after the start of the trial. Lawyers representing the families of some of the 228 victims on board had called for a trial for many years before they got their wish.

The Paris Court of Justice said April 17 that while errors had been made, “no certain link of causality” could be established.

“Air France acknowledges today’s Paris Court of Justice acquittal decision,” the airline said April 17 after the verdict was announced. “Deeply saddened by this terrible accident, Air France will always remember the victims and wishes to express its heartfelt sympathy to their loved ones. The company also wishes to reaffirm its continued trust in all of its pilots and flight crews and reiterates that the safety of its customers and crews is its absolute priority.”

Airbus said: “The Paris Criminal Court has ruled that all criminal charges against Airbus have been dismissed. This decision is consistent with the dismissal of the case by the judges in charge of the investigation in 2019. We would like to express our sympathy to those who lost a family member, a loved one, a colleague and everyone touched by this tragedy... Airbus reaffirms the full commitment of the company and all its employees to keep prioritizing a safety-first culture across the company and the aviation sector.”

In July 2012, following a two-year search for the aircraft’s flight recorders, an investigation by France’s Bureau d’Enquetes et d’Analyses (BEA) concluded the flight crew had become disorientated and reacted incorrectly to faulty readings from the aircraft’s pitot tubes, which had become blocked by ice.

Helen Massy-Beresford

Based in Paris, Helen Massy-Beresford covers European and Middle Eastern airlines, the European Commission’s air transport policy and the air cargo industry for Aviation Week & Space Technology and Aviation Daily.


1 Comment
The crew "reacted incorrectly". Isn't that "involuntary"? Something stinks.