The plane plunged into the ocean en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris after entering an aerodynamic stall and falling from an altitude of 11580 metres (38,000 feet) during a storm, its engines running but its wings losing lift.
“The direct cause of the accident is the crew’s loss of control of the aircraft’s trajectory,” the judges determined.
Other crews, faced with similar situations, had successfully maintained control of their aircraft, their ruling said.
The magistrates overruled the prosecutors investigating the case, who had recommended that Air France stand trial over the crash in July. The magistrates followed the prosecutors’ recommendation to drop the charges against Airbus.
In their 2012 report, French accident investigators found the crew of AF447 mishandled the loss of speed readings from sensors blocked with ice and pushed the jet into a stall by holding the nose too high.