Air France and the aircraft manufacturer Airbus will be judged Monday in Paris.
The French companies are accused of “manslaughter” following the crash of a flight from Brazil in 2009, which killed all 228 people on board.
The case involves pilot training and a faulty airspeed monitoring probe, which was quickly replaced on planes around the world in the months following the crash.
Flight AF 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris plunged into the Atlantic Ocean during a storm in the early hours of June 1, 2009, after encountering severe turbulence.
The A330 was carrying 12 crew members and 216 passengers, including 61 French.
This is the deadliest Air France crash in history.
Some of the victims’ families said the court case was the “light at the end of a long tunnel”.
“Thirteen years later, we have a trial, a trial which, for me, is not that interesting, personally, since it will not bring my daughter back to me”, says Corinne Soulas, mother of an accident victim.
“But I think it’s important, again, to remember this accident in people’s heads, to bring it back to life and then, above all, to define responsibilities, because there were responsibilities that had to be clarify.”
Air France and Airbus have been charged during an investigation into the crash, after experts determined it was the result of errors made by pilots after they were confused by a temporary loss of data from icy sensors.
Both companies have denied criminal negligence, and the investigating magistrates handling the case dropped the charges in 2019, blaming the crash primarily on pilot error.
This decision infuriated the families of the victims. In 2021, a Paris appeals court ruled that there was enough evidence to allow a trial to be held.
The AF447 accident sparked a huge reflection on training and technology and is considered one of the few accidents that changed aviation.