Thursday 19 September 2019

Father of Irish doctor who was among 228 killed in plane crash 'very disappointed' with decision not to bring charges

Victim: Dr Aisling Butler from Roscrea, Co Tipperary
Victim: Dr Aisling Butler from Roscrea, Co Tipperary
Friends and colleagues: (left-right) Doctors Aisling Butler, Eithne Walls and Jane Deasy perished when their flight plunged into the Atlantic in 2009

Niamh Lynch

THE father of an Irish doctor who died in a plane crash that killed 228 people has said he is “disappointed” at a decision by French magistrates not to proceed with manslaughter charges against Air France and airline manufacturer Airbus.

Aisling Butler, from Roscrea in Co Tipperary, was among the 216 passengers and 12 crew members, who were killed when Air France Flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris disappeared over the Atlantic on June 1, 2009.

Two other Irish doctors - Eithne Walls from Co Down and Jane Deasy from Rathgar, Dublin - were also killed in the incident.

The magistrates decided not to pursue charges against Air France and Airbus due to lack of evidence.

Friends and colleagues: (left-right) Doctors Aisling Butler, Eithne Walls and Jane Deasy perished when their flight plunged into the Atlantic in 2009
Friends and colleagues: (left-right) Doctors Aisling Butler, Eithne Walls and Jane Deasy perished when their flight plunged into the Atlantic in 2009

Speaking to RTÉ’s News at One, Dr Butler’s father John said they weren’t surprised at the verdict but “very, very disappointed”. 

“It is ten years and we never got the body of Aisling back. It’s one of those things that we’re living with every day,” said Mr Butler.

“Everyone is responsible for what they do.”

Mr Butler also confirmed that he would be joining the group of families that are appealing the decision.

Mr Butler paid tribute to his “fantastic daughter” on the show.

“She was a great friend, we were so lucky to have Aisling for the 26 years... The pain is always there - it’s like any pain, you just grow used to it and that’s it.

“She just loved her medicine, she just wanted to do more and more. The future was what she was thinking about all the time, she had a fantastic love of people and she just wanted to bring her medicine to her patients and let them have the benefit of it,” he said.

The Airbus 330 stalled in a storm and plunged into the ocean.

Magistrates looking into manslaughter charges blamed the crew for losing control after speed sensors froze.

The French accident investigation bureau, the BEA, found that external speed sensors were frozen and produced irregular readings on the aircraft, which went into a stall.

The captain also wasn't in the cockpit, one of multiple problems identified at the time of the crash, it was reported.

An Associated Press investigation in 2009 found that Airbus knew since at least 2002 about problems with the type of speed sensor that malfunctioned on Flight 447, but air safety authorities did not order their replacement until after the crash.

Airbus insists that the plane was airworthy.

Airbus and Air France have both declined to comment on the judges' decision pending an appeal.

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