The bosses of Airbus and Air France were greeted with cries of “shame” at the opening of a long-awaited trial in Paris over a 2009 plane crash in Brazil.
The companies deny that there was involuntary manslaughter in the crash of the Airbus A330 flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, writes the BBC.
Investigators found that the pilots lost control when the airspeed sensors froze, and all 228 people on board died.
The families of the deceased have been demanding a trial for years.
The Airbus and Air France trial is linked to a 2009 case
Relatives protested as Air France CEO Anne Rigail and Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury offered their condolences during opening statements.
Faury told reporters that “it’s going to be a difficult process” and that the firm wanted to contribute to “truth and understanding.” Rigail expressed his “deepest sympathy” after telling the court that Air France would never forget the worst accident in its history.
But Faury’s remarks were met with cries of “shame” and “too little, too late.”
“Thirteen years we’ve been waiting for this day and we’ve been preparing for a long time,” said Daniele Lamy, who lost his son in the crash.
How did the accident happen?
Air France Flight 447 crashed hours after taking off from Rio de Janeiro after encountering a high-altitude storm.
After a years-long search of the plane’s black boxes, investigators concluded that the plane’s speed sensors failed and gave false information, leading to the crash.
The pilots did not follow proper procedure and lost control of the aircraft, which plunged into the ocean from 11,580m. The captain was on a break when the problems started and the co-pilots did not have the training to deal with the faulty equipment, investigators say .
The charges had, at some point, been dropped
Judges initially charged both the airline and the manufacturer with manslaughter, but the prosecutor recommended that only Air France be tried. In September 2019, charges against both were dropped as there were insufficient grounds to prosecute.
That decision was challenged, and last May the Court of Appeal in Paris ruled that both Air France and Airbus should stand trial.