December 7, 2022

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‘We tried everything’, the pilots repeated, before the plane crash in 2009

Airline judgment Air France and company Airbus A plane crash that killed 228 people on board Rio de Janeiro A Paris In 2009, the tragedy began last week in France, 13 years after it happened. This Monday, the 17th, the last four minutes of audio from the plane’s cabin were heard in court in Paris.

According to AFP, before the excerpts were released, everyone had to put their cell phones in plastic bags, and there was no presence of the public or the press. “We hear voices from beyond the grave. It was a terrifying moment because pilots in many divisions (say): ‘We tried everything’. They don’t understand what’s going to happen,” Alain Jakubowicz, one of the lawyers of the association Entrite et Solidarit AF447 (Cooperation and Solidarity AF447), told the agency.

Listening to the audio recorded by the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) left the affected families emotional. “I dreaded this moment, it was much stronger than I imagined,” Corinne Solas, who lost her daughter in the plane crash, told AFP.

Obili Dulio, his brother who also died in the crash, was moved by the voices of the pilots, who “faced a situation they did not understand, defeated them completely, showed extraordinary coolness and heard us fighting. The end”..

An Airbus spokesman told the French news agency that it was a decisive moment for everyone in the courtroom. “We share the grief of the pilots and those close to the victims who are relieved to hear this report,” he said.

A Brazilian navy team recovers the wreckage of an Air France plane that crashed in 2009, killing 228 people. Photo: Brazilian Navy

On June 1, 2009, Flight AF447 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean four hours after takeoff, killing all 216 passengers and 12 crew. 58 of the dead were Brazilians. The first bodies and remains of the plane were found a few days later, but the fourth phase of the search only found the black boxes in April 2011 at a depth of 3,900 meters.

The pilots were surprised when the probes measuring the plane’s speed froze, causing the autopilot to shut down abruptly. The black boxes confirmed that they were distracted by a technical glitch and could not have prevented the plane from crashing, which occurred less than five minutes later.

Although trial judges dismissed the case in 2019, the victims’ families and pilots’ unions appealed, and in May 2021, a judge sent both companies to trial for involuntary manslaughter.

Air France did not implement “adaptation training” or the necessary “information” for pilots to “react” to the technical glitch, the appeals court said in a statement.

Airbus itself is under investigation for “underestimating the severity” of the speed probe failures and failing to take the necessary steps to inform crew members of the emergency and train them effectively. Failures of these equipments multiplied in the months leading up to the accident. After the disaster, the pattern changed worldwide. The tragedy also led to other technological changes in aviation and enhanced altitude loss and crew training.

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