The trial for the tragedy of Air France of 2009, during which 228 people died during the trip Rio-Parisand which renders its verdict on Monday, made it possible to know the last words of the pilots of the fateful flight.

In the accident, 216 passengers and 12 crew members lost their lives, including a baby and seven children. The victims were of 33 different nationalities, including 73 French and 58 Brazilians.

The official investigation concluded that several factors contributed to the accident, including pilot error and the freezing of external sensors called pitot tubes.

According to the conclusions of the French Bureau of Investigation and Analysis (BEA), the accident occurred after ice blocked the plane’s speed-measuring probes, leaving pilots unaware of that data as they passed through an area of ​​turbulence. For him, they did not apply the correct protocol and they raised the position of the device until it lost its horizontality, ceased to have lift and was placed in free fall 1,150 kilometers from the coast of Recife (north-eastern Brazil) . The pilots thought they were climbing when in reality they were losing altitude.

Marc Dubois, 58, David Robert, 37, and Pierre-Cédric Bonin, 32, were at the controls of the plane when it fell from the sky, and their performances were caught in the eye of the storm.

During the follow-up investigation, it became apparent that two of them fell asleep, one after another, when they were supposed to be flying the plane. Bonin, nicknamed “Company Baby” because of his junior position, was tasked with piloting the difficult journey while his superiors rested.

The report stated: “With most of the time still ahead and an enthusiastic junior pilot at the controls, Dubois decided it was time to get some sleep.”

It took almost two years to recover the “black boxes” flight recorders, found nearly 4,000 meters below sea level.

AF447 Wreckage (AP/File)
AF447 Wreckage (AP/File)

In October, the lawyers and relatives of the victims were able listen to the scary voice recording for the first time in flight of the last minutes of the pilots.

We lost speed“, one of the pilots is heard saying before a recorded warning is played -“loss, loss, loss“- and the plane begins to rush into the Atlantic Ocean.

Recorded conversations in the cockpit also revealed the trio’s terrifying final conversation. When a key piece of flight equipment began to fail, panic ensued.

Shit, we’re going to crash! It’s not true… what’s going on?said Robert.

An unidentified voice, which may be Robert’s or Bonin’s, adds: “Damn we are dead”.

At the center of the hearings in Paris was the role of so-called defective Pitot tubes, which are used to measure the flight speed of aircraft.

The court heard how a failure of the tubes, which became blocked with ice crystals during a mid-Atlantic storm, caused alarms to go off in the cabin of the Airbus A330 and the shutdown of the autopilot system.

Technical experts pointed out how, after the instruments failed, the pilots put the plane into a climb that caused the plane to lose lift due to air moving under its wings, thus losing lift. ‘altitude.

“To us, what caused the crew to react the way they did remains a mystery in many ways,” he testified in court on November 10. Pascal Weillrepresentative of Air France and former test pilot.

Airbus he also blamed pilot error as the primary cause of the crash in the process.

But lawyers for the families have insisted that both companies were aware of the pitot tube problem before the accident and that the pilots were not trained to deal with such an emergency at high altitude.

"French justice, 13 years behind"poster shown during the air drama trial (AFP)
“French justice, 13 years behind”, poster displayed during the trial of the air tragedy (AFP)

The pitot tube model used in the aircraft Airbus damaged, manufactured by the French company Thaleswas replaced in aircraft around the world after the crash.

The accident also prompted an industry-wide review of training protocols, particularly to prepare pilots to handle the intense stress of unforeseen circumstances.

The trial was emotionally charged. In October, when the process began, torn families chanted “Shame! » to the presidents of Airbus there Air France when they spoke. Dozens of people who had lost loved ones stormed out of court as the trial ended with the prosecution surprisingly demanding an acquittal.

Prosecutors initially dropped charges against the companies in 2019 in a decision that also angered families of the victims.

A Paris Court of Appeal overturned that decision in 2021 and ordered the trial to continue.

(With AP, AFP information)

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