Air France and Airbus should stand trial on involuntary manslaughter charges over a 2009 crash in the Atlantic Ocean which killed 228 people, a French court has ruled.
Air France flight AF447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris crashed on June 1 2009 killing everyone on board.
Three Irish women, Dr Aisling Butler (26) of Roscrea, Co Tipperary, Dr Jane Deasy (27) from Dublin and Dr Eithne Walls (28), from Co Down, were among those who lost their lives in the crash.
The three friends had studied medicine together in Trinity College Dublin and were returning from a holiday in Brazil when the plane disaster took place.
Maksim Ivanova (25), a young Estonian man who was living in Dublin, also died in the tragedy. His Dublin-based mother was later awarded €68,000 in High Court damages in respect of her son’s death in 2013.
On Wednesday, a French court, ruling on a request from French prosecutors, overturned a previous ruling that there should not be a trial.
French investigators found the crew mishandled loss of speed readings from sensors blocked with ice from a storm, and caused the aircraft to stall by holding its nose too high.
It took two years to find the wreckage of the Airbus A330 jet, which was eventually located by remote-controlled submarines at a depth of 13,000 feet.
Airbus and Air France both said on Wednesday they planned to file appeals against the ruling before a higher court.
In a statement, Airbus said the court decision "does not reflect in any way the conclusions of the investigation."
A spokesperson for Air France said the airline "maintains that it committed no criminal fault at the root of this tragic accident."
A report in 2014 found that two senior pilots were asleep just moments before the airliner crashed.
Previously unheard recordings from a black box recording which was recovered from the wreck of the aeroplane indicate one of the pilot's final words were: "F***, we're dead."
Speaking after the crash, Dr Eithne Walls’ family described her as an "extraordinary person who brought light to the lives of everyone she touched."
“She was beautiful in every way, especially of spirit. She had a passion for life that permeated, enlivened and enriched those around her.
“We feel privileged to have shared her too short life, and the countless memories of her will stay with us forever," they said.
Dr Wall graduated from Trinity College Dublin alongside friends Dr Butler and Dr Deasy in 2007.
Her body, alongside Dr Butler's, has never been found.
Speaking ten years after the tragedy, Dr Butler's father said "it's one of those things that we're living with every day.”
“The future was what she was thinking of all the time, she had a fantastic love of people, she just wanted to bring her medicine to her patients and to let them have the benefit of it.”
Dr Deasy's body was recovered a month after the crash to the relief of her family and friends.
The young doctor was remembered at her funeral as an "exceptionally special, loving and unique person."