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Wed, Nov 08, 2006

Airbus, Air France Found Liable For 1992 Crash

Six Individuals Found Not Guilty Of Criminal Manslaughter

A French court ruled Tuesday that aircraft manufacturer Airbus, along with the airline Air France are both liable to pay damages for a 1992 plane crash that killed 87 people near the German border, but cleared six individuals who were accused of manslaughter.

Airbus built the A320 airliner that crashed January 20, 1992 while on a short-haul flight from Lyon to Strasbourg. For still-unknown reasons, the plane suddenly descended rapidly... and impacted the 2,500 foot high Mont-Sainte-Odile. The aircraft was flying for the now-defunct Air Inter, which was later absorbed by Air France.

Six defendants faced criminal manslaughter charges and up to two years in prison each. The accused included an Airbus executive, two members of the French Civil Aviation Agency, two former Air Inter officials, and an air traffic controller who was on duty at the time of the crash.

The verdict was seen as a victory for the aviation industry in its drive to decriminalize aircraft crashes as more and more countries around the world seek to pin criminal responsibility on pilots and aviation businesses, says the Herald Tribune. The French prosecuters accused the six aviation officials of committing errors that lead to the deaths of the 87.

The court found that none of those six, however, could be held personally responsible for the crash. The court also did not explain its reasoning for saying Air France and Airbus are liable for damages. An amount for those damages hasn't been determined.



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