Court Acquits Air France & Airbus of Manslaughter Charges in AF447 Crash
Air France and Airbus were recently acquitted of charges connected to the tragic Air France Flight AF447 crash in 2009. Although the prosecution found some acts of imprudence by both the manufacturer and the airline, they did not find enough evidence to prove criminal negligence on their part.
Background of the Trial
The case revolved around an Airbus A330-200 (registered as F-GZCP) that crashed during a flight from Rio de Janeiro Galeão to Paris Charles de Gaulle in 2009. All 228 people on board, including three flight crew, nine cabin crew, and 216 passengers, lost their lives in Air France’s most fatal accident.
The prosecution concluded that the pilots had been unable to manage their stress and surprise after receiving faulty readings from the aircraft’s pitot sensors, which triggered multiple alarms. The court could not prove that the sensors had malfunctioned, and therefore argued that there was no liability for either company involved.
Buy a 1/350 scale diecast model of an Air France Boeing 777
Following a civil trial held between October and December of the previous year, the public prosecutors’ office stated that it was impossible to establish blame for either company and recommended that both defendants be cleared. This decision not to seek a conviction was unusual but not binding for the judges overseeing the trial.
The court found that Airbus had committed “four acts of imprudence or negligence,” including not replacing specific models of pitot tubes on the A330 and A340 fleet known to freeze more frequently. The manufacturer was also accused of “withholding information” from flight operators.
Air France, on the other hand, was found to have committed two “acts of imprudence” concerning the distribution of information about the faulty pitot sensors. Despite these findings, the court could not establish a strong causal link between these shortcomings and the accident, and therefore no offense was deemed to have been committed.
The final accident report, released by France’s Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety in July 2021, primarily attributed the crash to pilot error following technical malfunctions of the pitot tubes. These tubes, located on the plane’s exterior to measure airspeed, iced over during the flight, causing incorrect speed readings that distracted the crew. The crew’s failure to respond appropriately to the warning alarms contributed to the accident.
The Public Prosecutors Office initially called for a manslaughter trial against Air France, arguing that the airline did not provide sufficient information to its pilots about the procedures to be followed. The case underscored that the pitot tubes had malfunctioned due to ice on previous flights before the crash and accused Airbus of not informing airlines urgently enough. These sensors were replaced on all Airbus aircraft worldwide after the accident.
The case was dismissed in 2019 due to insufficient evidence, but an association representing the victims’ relatives (‘Association entraide et solidarité vol AF447’) appealed the decision. In May 2021, the Court of Appeal of Paris reversed the 2019 dismissal and ordered Air France and Airbus to stand trial for involuntary manslaughter, culminating in the recent trial.
In a statement to Simple Flying, an Airbus spokesperson expressed sympathy for those affected by the tragedy and reaffirmed the company’s commitment to prioritizing safety. The spokesperson noted that the decision was consistent with the 2019 dismissal and reiterated Airbus’s dedication to maintaining a safety-first culture throughout the company and the aviation industry.
At the time of the accident, the aircraft was about four years old and had accumulated nearly 18,900 flying hours.
After the Trial
The verdict marks the end of a long legal battle for the families of the victims, Air France, and Airbus. While some family members expressed disappointment and disbelief at the outcome, others found closure and relief that the trial has concluded.
Air France’s Response
Air France, while acknowledging the court’s decision, maintained that the safety of its passengers and crew remains its top priority. The airline has since implemented additional safety measures and enhanced training programs for its pilots, aiming to prevent similar incidents in the future.
The AF447 trial has drawn attention to the importance of effective communication between manufacturers, airlines, and regulators. Lessons learned from this tragedy have resulted in increased focus on flight crew training, particularly in handling high-stress situations and unexpected system failures. The aviation industry as a whole has also benefited from updated safety guidelines and improvements in aircraft design, ultimately making air travel safer for passengers worldwide.
1/350 scale diecast model of an Air France Airbus A320
The AF447 trial serves as a sobering reminder of the potential consequences of system failures and human error in aviation. Although Air France and Airbus were acquitted of manslaughter charges, the industry must continue to prioritize safety and learn from past mistakes to prevent future tragedies.
READ ALSO: The Story of the Deadliest Air Crash on the British Ground: Pan Am 103
As we reflect on the AF447 tragedy and its impact on the aviation industry, we’d like to hear your thoughts. How do you think this incident has shaped airline safety and pilot training over the years? Share your opinions in the comments section below.
Video: Cargolux Boeing 747 Loses Part of Landing Gear During Emergency Landing
In a notable incident at Luxembourg Airport, a Boeing 747-400 cargo plane from Cargolux lost a part of its main landing gear during an emergency landing on Sunday evening.
The aircraft, registered as LX-OCV, took off from Luxembourg airport bound for Chicago ORD. However, the pilots soon reported a malfunction. The aircraft then climbed to 10,000 ft to dump fuel for approximately 10 minutes before returning to Luxembourg Airport for an emergency landing.
Shockingly, during the landing, the right center gear unit broke off. Subsequently, the aircraft was unloaded, and the runway had to be closed for inspection and cleaning.
As we wait for further updates on the situation, Cargolux has confirmed the significant landing incident involving its B747-400F aircraft, bearing registration mark LX-OCV. The aircraft was unable to retract its landing gear on take-off from Luxembourg, forcing it to safely dump fuel in order to return to the airport. On its landing roll, its right body landing gear detached from the aircraft. Despite this, the aircraft came to a controlled stop and was attended to by the emergency services.
Thankfully, no persons onboard or on the ground suffered any injuries. The relevant authorities have been informed of the incident. The aircraft remains on the runway, and recovery efforts are currently underway.
Immediate Aftermath and Runway Clean-up
Despite the challenges posed by the incident, crews swiftly initiated the clean-up process. The primary focus now is ensuring the safe resumption of operations. The runway will reopen only after a thorough inspection confirms it is safe for aircraft operations.
Happened also last month: Video: Cargolux Boeing 747 Damaged During Landing at Luxembourg
Flights to Luxembourg are currently diverting to Frankfurt until the runway is declared safe for operations. We will keep you updated as soon as further details are released.
American Airlines Boeing 737 Suffers Engine Flameout After Hitting Flock of Geese
An American Airlines Boeing 737 flight experienced a dramatic engine flameout when a flock of geese collided with the aircraft shortly after take-off. The frightening event was captured on video and posted online, showing the aircraft emitting flames before returning to the airport. Fortunately, no injuries were reported.
Terrifying Moment During Take-off
The American Airlines Flight 1958 was en route to Phoenix, Arizona from John Glenn Columbus International Airport when it was struck by a flock of geese. Eyewitnesses described flames shooting from the engine and “wonky, pulsing noises” coming from the plane. One person in Columbus, Ohio even reported that it sounded like the engines were about to fail. The flight took off at 7:43 am and made an emergency landing back at the airport just 40 minutes later, at 8:22 am.
Identifying the Aircraft
The aircraft involved in the incident was a Boeing 737-800, Boeing 737-800 (N972NN, built 2015), not the controversial 737 Max, which has been linked to two fatal crashes resulting in over 340 deaths. After the engine flameout, videos and photos circulated online, showing flames coming from the engine and the plane emitting a low rumbling noise as it flew over Ohio.
Investigation and Airport Status
An unnamed passenger on the flight reported that the pilot attributed the engine fire to geese entering the engine. The Federal Aviation Administration is now leading an investigation into the incident. Meanwhile, John Glenn Columbus International Airport remains open and operational, with emergency crews present on the scene.
Recent Similar Event
This dramatic event occurred only three days after another engine fire aboard an Airbus A321 at Charlotte Douglas Airport in North Carolina. The fire was visible from the slats of the plane, and passengers were heard crying out in fear. The flight, bound for Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, returned to the gate without taking off, and the flames were extinguished. The incident, which resulted in no injuries, is being treated as a mechanical failure.
While the American Airlines Boeing 737 incident was certainly frightening for passengers and observers, it serves as a reminder of the importance of aviation safety and thorough investigations into such occurrences. As the Federal Aviation Administration leads the investigation into this engine flameout, we can only hope that valuable lessons will be learned to prevent similar incidents in the future.
READ ALSO: Boeing 737 Max: Latest Safety Measures and Airline Responses
Have you ever witnessed an event like this during a flight? Share your experiences in the comments below.
Breaking News: Saudia Airlines A330 Damaged in Accident at Khartoum Airport
Last Update: 15 April 15:45 UTC
Saudia Airlines has confirmed that one of its A330 aircraft was involved in an accident at Khartoum International Airport on Saturday, April 15. The incident occurred just before the plane was scheduled to take off for Riyadh at 07:30 UTC. Following the accident, all flights to and from Sudan have been suspended until further notice.
In a recent press release, Saudia Airlines confirmed that one of its A330 aircraft, flight number SV458, was involved in an accident at Khartoum International Airport before taking off to Riyadh at 0730hrs UTC on Saturday, April 15. The damaged aircraft has been identified as HZ-AQ30, built in 2017, which arrived from Riyadh earlier. Another Saudia flight, SV451, HZ-AQ29, was close to landing in Khartoum but had to return to Jeddah due to the ongoing situation.
According to reports, several aircraft, including the Saudia A330, and a SkyUp 737, UR-SQH, built in 2004, which arrived from Jeddah operating for Sun Air, were damaged at Khartoum Airport as Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces took control of the airport after days of tension in the country.
The clashes between the military and the RSF have escalated in recent months, forcing a delay in signing an internationally backed deal with political parties to revive the country’s democratic transition.
Videos inside the airport show people lying on the floor as explosions and gunfire are exchanged outside the terminal building. Shocking images of the destroyed Saudia A330 on the tarmac have been circulating online. Saudia Airlines has suspended all flights to and from Sudan until further notice.
SAUDIA’s emergency team immediately responded to the accident, working alongside all relevant authorities, led by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the Republic of Sudan, to obtain more information about the incident.
Saudia Airlines has released a statement confirming that one of its A330 aircraft, flight number SV458, was damaged by gunfire at Khartoum International Airport while preparing for its scheduled departure to Riyadh. The incident occurred amidst escalating tensions in Sudan, leading to the airport being taken over by Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.
In an updated statement, the airline reported, “Following the security events in the Republic of Sudan, an aircraft belonging to SAUDIA was exposed to gunfire damage at Khartoum International Airport while preparing for its scheduled departure flight SV458 to Riyadh with guests and crew on board this morning.”
The airline has confirmed that all members of the aircraft’s cabin crew have safely arrived at the Saudi Embassy in Sudan. Aircraft flying over Sudan have returned, and all other flights to and from Sudan have been suspended to ensure the safety of passengers and crew. Saudia Airlines is working closely with its emergency coordination center, cabin crew, airport staff, and the Saudi Embassy in Sudan to gather more information about the incident.
Shocking images of the damaged Saudia A330 have emerged, showing the extent of the damage caused by the gunfire. Another Saudia flight, #SV451 (HZ-AQ29), was close to landing in Khartoum but returned to Jeddah due to the ongoing situation at the airport.
Saudia Airlines will continue to provide updates on the situation through supplementary statements as more information becomes available. In the meantime, passengers planning to travel to or from Sudan should stay vigilant and monitor the situation closely.
What is happening in Sudan?
Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) declared that they had seized control of Khartoum International Airport as clashes erupted between Sudan’s paramilitary RSF and the army on Saturday.
Numerous flights have been canceled at Khartoum Airport, with data from Flightradar24.com showing that flights operated by Flynas, flydubai, Egyptair, and Saudia, among others, have been affected.
Several airlines, including Emirates, flydubai, Air Arabia, Egyptair, flynas, flyadeal and Saudia, have canceled flights to Sudan due to the deteriorating situation of civil unrest in Khartoum. Emirates and flydubai flights to and from Khartoum have been canceled from April 15th to 17th, while Air Arabia and the three Saudi carriers: Saudia, flynas, and flyadeal announced the suspension of all flights to and from Sudan until further notice.. Egyptair‘s suspension of services to Sudan will remain in effect for 72 hours or until further notice, depending on the situation in the country.
Social media footage shows Sudan’s RSF storming Khartoum International Airport with their vehicles and members carrying firearms through the passenger terminals. Khartoum International Airport is the main base for Sudan’s flag carrier, Sudan Airways, which currently operates an Airbus A320 aircraft. According to Flightradar24.com data, Sudan Airways’ Airbus A320 departed for Jeddah from Khartoum but did not return.
In a statement on Twitter, Sudan’s paramilitary announced that it also took control of Merowe Airport (MWE) and the military base. The recent incidents have raised concerns for Sudanese aviation, which had high hopes for the future with the launch of new routes and carriers, such as Badr Airlines’ flights between Khartoum and London Gatwick and the addition of Air Arabia Sudan.
We will continue to follow this breaking news story and provide updates on our platform as they become available. Stay tuned for more information on this developing situation.
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