Saturday 21 October 2017

Airbus charged over crash that claimed 228 lives

Andrea Rothman

THE company that made a plane which crashed killing 228 people -- including three young Irish doctors -- was yesterday charged with manslaughter by a French judge.

Toulouse-based Airbus SAS was charged with manslaughter over the crash of an Air France plane flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris in 2009.

Among the dead were Dr Jane Deasy (22), from Rathgar in Dublin; Dr Aisling Butler (22), from Roscrea, Co Tipperary; and Dr Eithne Walls, from Belfast, a former Irish dancing star with Riverdance. They were flying home from a holiday.

The charges, which are preliminary, were filed after an investigating judge met with Airbus chief executive Tom Enders and its lawyers, giving them full access to documents filed in the case, which seeks to apportion blame in the accident. The judge will meet with Air France lawyers and officials today

"Airbus has been placed under investigation by the investigating magistrates in relation to the Air France Flight 447 tragedy," Mr Enders said yesterday.

Wreckage

"On behalf of Airbus, I have noted the absence of facts supporting this step and stated our strong disagreement," he added.

Flight 447 went down over the Atlantic on June 1, 2009.

Three searches failed to locate missing wreckage and the flight recorders, which would contain critical information about the aircraft's operation before the crash.

Mr Enders said Airbus's focus now is finding the cause of the accident, which requires further searches for the black boxes. The criminal investigation into the crash is running concurrently with an investigation by safety experts into the causes of the accident.

The French air crash investigations body, BEA, is preparing to resume scouring 17,000sq km of seabed off the coast of Brazil for the wreckage and flight recorders, with investigators saying they can't determine the cause of the accident without them.

The fourth search operation will begin next month and continue, if necessary, well beyond the disaster's second anniversary.

Investigation into the crash has focused partly on sensors in the plane that measure airspeed. These may have been damaged by ice or obstruction, causing unreliable speed readings, which may have contributed to the accident, investigators said.

Irish Independent

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