March 18, 2011 / 11:09 AM / 9 years ago

Air France faces court investigation over Rio crash

Brazilian Navy sailors pick a piece of debris from Air France flight AF447 out of the Atlantic Ocean, June 8, 2009. REUTERS/Brazilian Air Force

PARIS (Reuters) - Air France-KLM was placed under investigation Friday by a French court for involuntary manslaughter over the crash in 2009 of its flight 447 between Rio and Paris which killed 228 people, its CEO said.

Investigators are trying to establish why the Airbus 330 plane operated by Air France plunged into the Atlantic during a storm on the night of May 31, 2009, killing passengers from 32 nations, including 72 French citizens.

The court also placed European planemaker Airbus under investigation Thursday.

An investigating judge informed Air France Chief Executive Pierre-Henri Gourgeon and other executives during a meeting at Paris’s palace of justice.

“We object to being put under investigation. It seems unfounded to us,” Gourgeon told journalists. “We do not have explanations and so it’s during the proceedings that we will be able to give our explanations.”

Airbus also disapproved of the move to put the company under investigation, which its Chief Executive Thomas Enders said was “at least premature.”

A series of search operations in the Atlantic, the fourth since the crash, are scheduled for March 20 along the Brazilian coast. The 9 million euro ($12.7 million) cost will be met by Airbus and Air France.

Reporting by Thierry Leveque; Writing by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Greg Mahlich

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