By Mauro Orru


European plane maker Airbus SE and carrier Air France were acquitted of involuntary manslaughter following an air crash that killed all 228 people on board in 2009, a French court ruled Monday.

The ruling caps years of legal back and forth for families of the victims, Airbus and Air France--part of Air France-KLM. An Air France spokesman said the airline acknowledged the court's acquittal decision. Airbus said the ruling meant all criminal charges against Airbus had been dismissed.

Airlines are automatically liable for damages in case of death or injury under the Montreal Convention of 1999 governing airlines' liability toward their passengers for accidents, according to the International Air Transport Association.

"Deeply saddened by this terrible accident, Air France will always remember the victims and wishes to express its heartfelt sympathy to their loved ones. The company also wishes to reaffirm its continued trust in all of its pilots and flight crews and reiterates that the safety of its customers and crews is its absolute priority," the Air France spokesman said.

Flight AF447 plunged into the Atlantic Ocean en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris in June 2009. The wreck was only discovered on the ocean bed in April 2011.

A 2012 report from French accident investigators said Air France pilots had received wrong speed readings after ice crystals froze key equipment on the A330-203, prompting the pilots to keep the nose up and climb above 37,000 feet until the aircraft stalled and slammed into the ocean.

Investigators said the crash ultimately resulted from the crew's "failure to diagnose the stall situation and consequently a lack of inputs" that would have allowed them to recover and continue the flight.

"We would like to express our sympathy to those who lost a family member, a loved one, a colleague and everyone touched by this tragedy. Airbus reaffirms the full commitment of the company and all its employees to keep prioritizing a safety-first culture across the company and the aviation sector," Airbus's spokesman said.


Write to Mauro Orru at; @MauroOrru94


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 17, 2023 09:19 ET (13:19 GMT)

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