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Final report finds pilot error behind Air France crash that killed 228: source

Brazilian Navy sailors pick a piece of debris from Air France flight AF447 out of the Atlantic Ocean in this handout file photo distributed by the Navy on June 8, 2009.

HO/REUTERS

A French report has found that human error and technical malfunctions caused the 2009 crash of an Air France flight from Rio to Paris that killed 228 people, a source close to the case said Wednesday.

The judicial report – due to be presented to victims' families on Tuesday next week – has concluded that pilot error and malfunctioning speed sensors were responsible, the source told AFP.

The French aviation safety authority BEA is due Thursday to present its final report on the crash. The paper is eagerly awaited amid a row between Airbus and Air France on who ultimately bears responsibility.

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The source said the separate 356-page judicial report found that speed sensors froze up and failed, but also that the "captain had failed in his duties" and "prevented the co-pilot from reacting."

The aircraft had entered a zone of turbulence two hours into the flight when the autopilot suddenly disengaged, the BEA had said earlier.

French magistrates are investigating Air France and Airbus for alleged manslaughter in connection with the crash, notably because of the malfunctioning speed sensors, known as Pitots.

The airline replaced the Pitots, manufactured by French company Thales, on its Airbus planes with a newer model after the crash.

Victims's families have previously alleged that the involvement of big French corporations such as Airbus and Air France was influencing the affair.

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