Administrators acting on behalf of the families of four passengers killed in last years Lion Air flight JT610 crash have filed a lawsuit against aerospace giant Boeing in an Illinois district court – the Boeing Company is legally incorporated in Chicago, IL. All 189 passengers and crew were killed in the October 29, 2018 crash which involved a brand new Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft.
The lawsuit directly blames the ‘Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System’ or MCAS which was first introduced by Boeing on its range of 737 MAX aircraft. As the MAX features much larger and more efficient engines than previous 737’s, the MCAS system was designed to make it feel and fly just like any other 737.
Attorneys acting on behalf of the families claim Boeing “knew or should have known of the defects in the design and manufacture” of the MCAS system and acted carelessly, recklessly, and with gross negligence in allowing the system to be introduced.
They also blame the lack of “proper and inadequate instructions and warnings” provided by Boeing about the MCAS system and say pilots could never reasonably have suspected that a computer would override their actions when in manual control of the aircraft.
Describing the MCAS anti-stall system as “defective”, the lawsuit claims Boeing did not provide information for pilots on how to recover the situation when it malfunctioned, causing the plane to “drop and dive steeply”.
“The crew and passengers would have suffered unspeakable horror, pain, terror, and injury as they plummeted to their deaths,” the lawsuit alleges. The suit continues: “Boeing failed to notify, warn, and protect those coming into contact with the aforesaid products of the MCAS system, and such failure to warn was one of the legal causes of the incident and death of (the) Decedents”.
Although Indonesian authorities released a preliminary report into the crash late last year, the full report is not expected to be published for at least several more months. However, recent simulator tests of the suspected problem revealed that pilots would have had just 40-seconds to recover a similar scenario that is believed to have caused both the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes.
Boeing invited over 200 airlines pilots, safety experts and regulators to its Renton, Washington State facility on Wednesday for a briefing on a software patch for MCAS. The aircraft manufacturer says it will be adding several more layers of protection to the system to prevent erroneous data from faulty sensors causing an MCAS activation.
Responding to claims the MCAS system had not been properly tested before being approved, Boeing told reporters that it had been put through “hundreds of hours of analysis, laboratory testing, verification in a simulator and two test flights, including an in-flight certification test with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) representatives on board as observers.”
In addition, new pilot training will be introduced, including computer based training and a new quick reference handbook.
No date has yet been set for the lawsuit which has been filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Attorneys are requesting a jury trial with damages yet to be determined.