File 2009/Associated Press
The Airbus A330 bound for Paris from Rio de Janeiro crashed in June, killing all 228 people onboard. (File 2009/Associated Press)
Airbus faces charges in ’09 Air France crash
PARIS — A French judge filed preliminary manslaughter charges yesterday against Airbus over the 2009 crash of an
The order from Judge Sylvie Zimmerman targeting the European planemaker stems from the June 2009 crash into the Atlantic of an Airbus A330 bound for Paris from Rio de Janeiro, killing all 228 people onboard.
Airbus chief Thomas Enders, speaking to reporters afterward, said the company disagreed with the judge’s decision, which he called premature, especially in light of the still-unsolved mystery about the crash.
The preliminary charges, which allow for further investigation, came after Airbus lawyers met with the judge. Enders said Airbus will continue to cooperate with the probe.
Charges against Airbus, the world’s top planemaker by orders in 2010 and a rival of
Air France flight 447 went down June 1, 2009, amid an intense, high-altitude thunderstorm. Automatic messages sent by the plane’s computers show it was receiving false air speed readings from sensors known as pitot tubes. Investigators have said the crash was likely caused by a series of problems and not just sensor error.
Specialists are launching a fourth undersea search effort next week for the plane’s so-called black boxes or flight recorders.
“We are convinced if we find the black boxes, we’ll be able to reconstruct what really happened on this tragic flight Air France 447,’’ Enders said.
The exact role the sensors played in the crash may never be known without the flight recorders.
Airbus knew since at least 2002 about problems with the type of speed sensor that malfunctioned on the doomed jet. But air safety authorities did not order their replacement until after the crash.