Crash Rio-Paris


The judgment of April 17, 2023 was awaited by the families

The disaster of flight AF447 Rio-Paris on June 1 , 2009, which claimed the lives of 216 passengers and 12 crew members, was caused, according to the judgment rendered by the Paris Criminal Court on April 17, 2023:

  • Airbus’ fault consisting in having maintained in use, on the Airbus A 330-200 aircraft in question, the Thales AA probes with lower performance and less durability than those of the standard equipment;
  • Airbus’ fault consisting of withholding information on the seriousness and multiplication of incidents in 2008, affecting the Thales AA probes;
  • Airbus’ fault consisting in the classification and content of the “ Stall Warning ” procedure being unsuitable in the context of the years 2008 and 2009;
  • Airbus’ fault consisting in the absence of an ECAM message informing the crew of the unavailability of the probes;
  • Air France’s fault consisting in the deletion of the flight safety officer’s note from the Internet portal dedicated to pilots, in January 2009, and of not having been sent to them again in March 2009, in the absence of disappearance of the incidents.

The Court nevertheless acquitted Airbus and Air France of the offense of manslaughter.

The reason for the release is that:

No certain causal link could be established (…) with the accident with regard to the lack of information on the part of Airbus with regard to the companies, taking into account the existing hazard as to the measures that the Air France company could have taken with this additional information

However, the Investigation Chamber, reversing the dismissal in accordance with the requisitions of the General Prosecutor’s Office, had noted that the pilots “did not understand either that the probes, frozen, no longer fulfilled their role, nor for what reason the Stall alarm was going off”, and that “this misunderstanding (…) is linked as much to training as to the delivery of information”.

The Investigating Chamber referred Airbus and Air France to the Criminal Court.

Therefore, we cannot agree with the reason for the release, primarily that of Airbus.

In fact, the four faults found by the Court to be attributed to Airbus are indeed in a certain causal link with the death of 216 passengers and 12 crew members.

The certainty of this causal link lies in the fact by Airbus of having breached its obligation to inform Air France of the malfunctions of the probes, thus making it impossible for Air France to fulfill its own obligation for lack of having received Airbus the information to this effect.

The offense cannot therefore be held to be non-existent since it is certain that it is indeed the omission by Airbus of the information with regard to Air France which is the fact which has made it impossible to implement by Air France of this same information – ignored by it since omitted by Airbus – an omission giving rise to the offence.

It would have been different if, and in the event of information duly given by Airbus to Air France, the latter had refrained from implementing it – thus causing the disaster alone.

In short, the release from which Airbus and Air France benefited finds its paradoxical motivation and its substance in a double violation of safety obligations: current and effective violation by Airbus, postulate of a future violation by Air France.

Consequently, the facts have yet to say their last word on the judicial scene, which is why the General Prosecutor’s Office has, logically, appealed this decision.

Cabinet BCVLEX is delighted with this call, as it is important for the fight that we have been leading for our clients, with our colleagues, for 14 years.