...Lawyer Says: Negligence; Union Says: Competence

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Lawyer Glenn Grenier, of the Toronto law firm Goodman and Carr, has filed a $30 million class-action lawsuit against Air Transat, Rolls-Royce and Airbus on behalf of 193 of the passengers. "Up to the point in time when the engines flamed out, the pilots were in error and they were negligent in the operation of the aircraft," he said after the report was released, The Canadian Press reported on Tuesday. The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the union representing the pilots, saw things differently: "The report ... underscores the competence and professionalism exhibited by the two pilots in overcoming a host of misinformation and safely landing the aircraft and safeguarding the passengers under exceptional circumstances," ALPA said in a news release. The report also showed that the incident resulted from "a rare convergence of factors, including aircraft design, training, mechanical and performance issues," ALPA said. Although the Airbus landed safely, two passengers suffered serious injuries during the subsequent evacuation, and 14 other passengers and two crew members were slightly hurt, according to Air Transat. Grenier said that besides various injuries, the passengers suffered from stress.

The report recommends the mandatory installation of a new warning system for detecting fuel leaks, as recommended by Airbus to all operators in 2002. Other recommendations aim at improving maintenance and training processes. Also recommended is a review of checklists. The investigation was conducted by the Aviation Accidents Prevention and Investigation Department of Portugal. Other participants in the investigation included the Transportation Safety Board and Transport Canada (Canada), the Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la Sécurité de l'Aviation Civile and Direction Générale de l'Aviation Civile (France), the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (United Kingdom), Air Transat, Airbus, and Rolls-Royce.