no conviction required against Airbus and Air France


The prosecutor’s office estimated on Wednesday that it was “not” “able to request the conviction” of Airbus and Air France, tried for manslaughter after the crash of the Rio-Paris flight, in which 228 people died on June 1, 2009 The guilt of companies “seems to us impossible to demonstrate. We know that this position will most likely be inaudible to the civil parties, but we are not in a position to request the condemnation of Air France and Airbus”, explained the prosecutor in conclusion.

At these words, angry applause was heard in the packed courtroom of the Paris Criminal Court. “I’m ashamed to be French!” », « what is the use of justice? “Launched some civil parties before leaving the room.

An “incomparable drama”

The conclusion of the prosecutor fell at the conclusion of an indictment of nearly five and a half hours, started with a preamble qualifying the accident of flight AF447, the most serious in the history of Air France, of “incomparable drama”. “This tragic accident is above all a human tragedy which has forever upset the relatives of the victims”, whose “suffering has constantly been reactivated during these thirteen years”, a “much too long delay”, a-t- she stated. “Representing society in such a trial means preserving social order (and) remembering that respect for the lives of human beings does not admit of any compromise. Nevertheless, it is only to support the prosecution if the offenses are characterized”, she had underlined.

The second prosecutor then began to detail all the “contributing factors” of the accident, in order to know if a “fault” could be held against Airbus and Air France in “certain connection” with the disaster. The two companies, which would incur a fine of 225,000 euros each, contested any breach.

“No criminal fault” with regard to “the science of the time”

Prosecutor Pierre Arnaudin first addressed a “central point of the debates”, which provoked a “feeling of revolt” among the civil parties: the non-replacement of the Thalès AA model Pitot probes by one of the other two models. that existed then. The AF447 was equipped with these AA probes.

“I believe that there was at the time on the one hand the technical impossibility of understanding this phenomenon of icing and, on the other hand, of determining with certainty which probe resisted better”, he estimated.

“It is clear that in view of the scientific data of the time, no criminal fault seems to me to be able to be retained”, he concluded, recalling that the Court of Appeal, which ordered the trial , had also dismissed this incriminating element.

Marie Duffourc then returned at length to the consequences of the failure in the cockpit, concluding that no “defect in the design of the aircraft” had a “certain link with the loss of trajectory” and therefore could not be retained against Airbus.

Pierre Arnaudin then looked at the classification of probe icing incidents, which had multiplied during the months preceding the accident. In the reports on these failures, “there had never been an escape and total loss of control of the plane”, he underlined, judging that the classification had been “compliant”.

Anger of civil parties

Members of the association Entraide et Solidarité AF447, which represents the families of the victims, then ostensibly left the room, before a suspension of the hearing.

“We came back to 2019, when the investigating judges effectively declared a general dismissal. We have a prosecutor who is supposed to defend the people and who ultimately defends the multinational Airbus”, got carried away in front of the courtroom Danièle Lamy, president of the association, denouncing a “trial against the pilots”.

The lengthy legal process in this case saw two different positions on the part of the prosecution.

After a decade of investigation, the prosecution requested, in 2019, the dismissal of Air France, but not that of Airbus. The judges then pronounced a dismissal the same year, which was appealed.

Before the investigating chamber, the public prosecutor’s office finally demanded, two years later, the dismissal of the two companies for intentional homicides, a point of view followed by the court of appeal which ordered this trial.


Source: Le Progrès : info et actu nationale et régionale – Rhône, Loire, Ain, Haute-Loire et Jura | Le Progrès by www.leprogres.fr.

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