...By Jack Sylva for TDPel Media.
Air France and Airbus have been cleared of manslaughter charges in connection with the 2009 crash of flight AF447, which resulted in the deaths of all 228 passengers and crew, including five British nationals.
The ruling acquitted both companies of involuntary manslaughter, with the presiding judge at the Paris Criminal Court forced to call for calm as bereaved family members angrily called out “For 13 years you have shown contempt for us!”.
“Too Little, Too Late” from Company Heads
During the trial, the families of the victims shouted “shame on you” at the head of Air France, Anne Rigail, and Guillaume Faury of Airbus, as they expressed their condolences in their opening statements.
The ruling effectively means that the three pilots, who failed to deal with faulty equipment during a storm and fell asleep one after the other, were fully responsible for the crash.
Victims and Circumstances Surrounding the Crash
Among the victims were Graham Gardner, a 52-year-old oil worker from Gourock, Renfrewshire, Arthur Coakley, 61, an engineer from Whitby in North Yorkshire, eleven-year-old Alexander Bjoroy, a boarder at Clifton College in Bristol, PR executive Neil Warrior, 48, and Eithne Walls, 29, who had been working at the Eye and Ear Hospital in Dublin and was on a trip to Brazil with friends.
Three young Irish doctors, Aisling Butler, 26, Jane Deasy, 27, and Walls, were returning from a two-week holiday in Brazil.
The pilots’ last conversation before the aeroplane crashed was recorded and revealed one pilot saying, “We’ve lost our speeds.
I don’t know what’s happening.” The automatic pilot disconnected, leaving the three pilots on board in charge.
Mr. Dubois had been asleep at the time, and the co-pilots did not recognize the stall and therefore didn’t move to recover the mistake.
By the time Dubois woke up, he was unable to act quickly enough to save the plane.
“Piloting Culture Within Air France” Reformed
According to company sources, the “piloting culture within Air France” has been reformed since the crash.
The families and friends of those who died pursued a nearly 14-year fight for justice, and many of them were disgusted by the “not guilty” pleas by the two companies involved at the start of the criminal trial.
The companies faced trial for involuntary manslaughter, but there were no actual people in the dock – only the firms.
The maximum fine possible was just €225,000.
The acquittal of both companies of involuntary manslaughter has angered the families of the victims of flight AF447, who have been fighting for nearly 14 years for justice.
The trial was a painful reminder of the terrible circumstances surrounding the crash, in which three pilots’ failure to deal with faulty equipment during a storm resulted in the deaths of 228 passengers and crew.
The anger and frustration of the bereaved family members at the outcome of the trial are understandable, given that no one has been held accountable for the deaths of their loved ones.
However, the judgment was based on the fact that investigators could not establish a culpable breach by Airbus or Air France in connection with the piloting faults that caused the accident.
Nonetheless, this tragedy highlights the importance of ensuring that all companies, especially those involved in transportation, maintain the highest levels of safety to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.