Toronto

Air France settles Flight 358 class action suit

Many of the passengers who were aboard an Air France jet that overshot a runway at Toronto's Pearson International Airport more than four years ago will receive compensation through a class action lawsuit.

Many of the passengers who were aboard an Air France jet that overshot a runway at Toronto's Pearson International Airport more than four years ago will receive compensation through a class action lawsuit.

A Toronto judge has approved a $12-million class action settlement with 184 passengers who were aboard Flight 358, which crashed and burned beyond the runway when it landed in a violent thunderstorm in August 2005.

Air France will pay $10 million, and will be released from those passengers' claims stemming from the incident, according to a summary of the judgment.

Airbus and Goodrich, the company that made the emergency evacuation system on the plane, will pay $1.65 million, and will also have claims against them in the suit released.

Air France Flight 358 was carrying 297 passengers and 12 crew members on a flight from Paris. The plane ran off the runway into a ravine, where it burst into flames.

Some of the passengers were forced to jump from the plane because the evacuation slides weren't working properly.

J.J. Camp, a Vancouver lawyer representing claimants, said he expects an additional $2-million settlement from the Greater Toronto Airport Authority, which operates Pearson airport, will be approved by the court.

He said a small group of passengers who suffered serious physical or psychological injuries will be eligible for the maximum payout of $175,000. Passengers who weren't seriously harmed in the crash will receive the minimum payment, which will be between $5,000 to $10,000, Camp said.

Passengers aboard the flight were from 17 different countries, but Camp said most of the claimants were from Canada and France. He said he expects passengers will receive settlement payouts in the first quarter of 2010.

Camp said the lawsuit against NAV Canada, which provides air traffic control and air navigation services, will continue because NAV Canada didn't want to settle.

The class action settlement deals with 184 passengers, but many of the other passengers have filed separate claims or settled their cases with Air France outside the class action lawsuit.

With files from The Canadian Press