A French court has acquitted Airbus and Air France of manslaughter charges over the 2009 crash of Flight 447 from Rio to Paris, which killed 228 passengers. The conclusion of the trial, which has been fraught with tension since it began in October, was highly anticipated in France. Sobs broke out among victims’ families in the courtroom as the judges read out the decision. The official investigation found that multiple factors contributed to the crash, including pilot error and the icing over of external sensors called pitot tubes.
Acquittal was the expected outcome of the trial but remains a nonetheless devastating defeat for the victims’ families, who have fought for 13 years to see the case reach trial.
The two-month trial left families wracked with anger and disappointment. Unusually, even state prosecutors argued for acquittal, saying that the proceedings didn’t produce enough proof of criminal wrongdoing by the companies.
Prosecutors laid the responsibility primarily with the pilots, who died in the crash. Airbus lawyers also blamed pilot error, and Air France said the full reasons for the crash will never be known.
Air France has already compensated families of those killed, who came from 33 countries. Families from around the world are among the plaintiffs, including many in Brazil.
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