French pilot representatives are to appeal a decision to dismiss charges against Airbus over the fatal Air France Airbus A330 accident in the South Atlantic in 2009.

The aircraft, operating flight AF447 on the Rio de Janeiro-Paris route, crashed after its crew, after reacting to unreliable airspeed indications following sensor icing, failed to recover from a high-altitude stall.

Loss of the aircraft has been the subject of a long-running dispute after the crew's improper handling, rather than the aircraft design, was largely blamed for the accident.

Pilots union SNPL is expressing "indignation" at the judicial decision to drop charges against Airbus, as well as Air France, describing the move as "scandalous".

Vice-president Vincent Gilles says the union intends to appeal the ruling.

A previous legal recommendation focused on indicting only Air France, rather than Airbus, which drew similar ire from the union.

Victims association FENVAC also says the decision to "exonerate" Airbus was "incomprehensible and unacceptable".

But the dropping of charges against both the airline and the airframer, it says, means "depriving" those affected of any sort of trial which would have determined responsibility.

The reasoning behind the dismissal, says the association, is that the accident resulted from the conjunction of several elements which could not have been previously perceived and did not characterise improper action by Airbus or Air France.

But FENVAC scorns this decision, arguing that this reasoning ignores technical evidence, and accusing judicial authorities of failing to exercise independence.

"We do not accept that the most serious air disaster in the history of French aviation is not the subject of a liability lawsuit," it states.