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AT72, Tuninter, Palermo Italy, 2005 (Legal Process - Flight Crew, Aircraft Maintenance Technician, Aircraft Operator Supervisor/Manager, Aircraft Maintenance Supervisor/Manager)

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Article Information
Category: Human Error
in Aviation
and Legal Process
Human Error in Aviation and Legal Process
Content source: SKYbrary About SKYbrary
Content control: KYbrary About SKYbrary

The Event

Date: 06 August 2005

Location : Near Palermo, Italy

Summary: When fuel was unexpectedly exhausted en route, an ATR-72 aircraft, operated by the airline Tuninter (a wholly owned subsidiary of Tunis Air), ditched with the loss of sixteen lives - fifteen of the passengers and one of the flight attendants. It was found that insufficient fuel had been loaded because the flight crew had not checked the fuel uplift quantity before departure and had instead relied only upon the fuel quantity gauges which had been fitted incorrectly by maintenance personnel. It appeared that the practices and procedures in place at the Operator, and approved by the Regulator, had been deficient. It was also found that the flight crew had failed to fully follow appropriate procedures after the engine run down and that if they had, it was conceivable, although not in any way certain, that it might have been possible to make an on-runway emergency landing instead of a ditching.


The Non Judicial Investigations

Carried out by  :

  • ANSV (Italian AAIB)

The Findings  :

Action by the Entity Involved:

  • ANSV - Three Safety Recommendations issued during the Investigation and actions taken by the aircraft operator prior to issue of any recommendations noted. A further fifteen Safety Recommendations were issued in the Final Report including three jointly to the Italian Minister of Justice and Minister of Transport concerning restrictions on access to data imposed on the ANSV investigation by the judicial authorities and absence of appropriate control over release of CVR data.
  • Action by the Regulator - Not known

The Criminal Prosecution

Persons Prosecuted: Charges Made January 2008 against nine employees of the airline at the time of the accident:

  • (1) The aircraft commander
  • (2) The aircraft First Officer
  • (3) The Chief Operating Officer
  • (4) The Technical Director
  • (5) The Chief of the Maintenance Division
  • (6) A Maintenance Team Supervisor
  • (7) A Maintenance Technician
  • (8) Two others

The Court: Palermo, Sicily

The system : A Judge (sitting alone??)

The Charge(s):

  • Multiple Manslaughter
  • Causing a disaster

The Plea(s): not known

Prosecutors Sentencing Request: Not known

Significant aspects of the trial: ANSV was required by the Judge to provide to the Court a simulator flight path projection to confirm that it was theoretically possible for the aircraft to have reached Palermo Airport if the flight crew had performed flawlessly.

The Judgement: Delivered on 23 March 2009. Persons (1) - (7) found guilty and the remaining two not guilty

The Sentence(s):

  • (1) Aircraft Commander: 10 years
  • (2) First Officer: 10 years
  • (3) COO: 9 years
  • (4) Technical Director: 9 years
  • (5) Head of Maintenance Department: 8 years
  • (6) Mechanic: 8 years
  • (7) Maintenance Team Leader: 8 years

Appeal Lodged?: Yes, defendants at liberty; outcome of appeals pending


Related Facts

  • Damages were also awarded by the Court, in association with the verdicts, to a relative of victims of the accident (EUR 30000) and to another party (EUR 15000)
  • ANSV included statements concerning the impediment to their investigation caused by the actions of the judicial authorities, in respect of access to CVR data and access to findings made during the investigation to foreign states in the interests of accident prevention.
  • ANSV also expressed concern that, immediately after the judicial authorities granted access to the CVR data to the parties involved in criminal proceedings in January 2007, information from the recording was obtained by the media and widely publicised.


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