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Air France sues Pearson, Ottawa over 2005 crash

June 4, 2008, Ottawa - Pearson International Airport's newest runway lacks proper safety margins and falls short of international standards, Air France alleges in a lawsuit following the dramatic 2005 crash of one of its jets at the site.


June 4, 2008
By Carey Fredericks

June 4, 2008, Ottawa – Pearson International Airport's newest runway lacks
proper safety margins and falls short of international standards,
Air France alleges in a lawsuit following the dramatic 2005 crash of
one of its jets at the site.

The French airline and its insurers are suing the Greater Toronto
Airports Authority, which runs Pearson, the federal government and
the country's air-traffic control agency for about $180 million,
charging they all cut corners that contributed to the crash of its
Airbus A340 jet.

The airline takes aim at the airport operator, saying the design
of Runway 24 Left — which ends at a steep ravine — failed to
ensure there was an "adequate margin of safety for aircraft in the
event of an overrun event."

It also says in a statement of claim filed with the Ontario
Superior Court that "GTAA failed to provide a safe environment for
the conduct of civil air operations."

Flight 358 arriving from Paris was battered by a violent
thunderstorm just as it touched down on Aug. 2, 2005. Going too
fast, it ran off the rain-slicked runway and into the ravine, where
it broke apart and burst into flames.

All 297 passengers and 12 crew survived the accident but 33
people were taken to hospital.

In its lawsuit, Air France pins the blame on the Greater Toronto
Airports Authority, Nav Canada and the individual air-traffic
controllers who guided the big jet to the airport in the fateful
minutes before the crash.

"The overrun and the consequent injuries to persons and damage to
property were caused solely by the negligence of the defendants,"
the statement of claim says.

In its defence, the federal government says Air France knew that
runway runoff areas "are not standard in Canada" and noted the
airline operated from Pearson for "many years" before the crash.

"Air France has continued to operate flights including those by
A340 aircraft on Runway 24L since the said incident," the government
says in its statement of defence.

Federal officials point the finger at the pilots, saying the crew
failed to calculate a safe landing distance, despite reports
thunderstorms were expected at the time of landing.

An investigation by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada
concluded last December that the jet touched down almost halfway
down the 2,740-metre runway and was still travelling at almost 150
km/h when it went off the runway.

Officials with both the GTAA and Nav Canada refused to comment
Tuesday on the lawsuit. However, both insisted that their respective
agencies are running a safe operation at Pearson.

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