Boeing is facing numerous lawsuits, investigations, and huge losses after two of its 737 Max airplanes crashed within a five-month span. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded Boeing 737-8 and 737-9 airplanes immediately following an Ethiopian Airlines crash this past March. Boeing is still investigating and repairing a faulty system deemed responsible. Several airlines have recently announced mass cancellations of Boeing 737 Max flights for upcoming months.
On October 29, 2018, Indonesian Lion Air flight JT610 crashed into the Java Sea 13 minutes after takeoff, killing all 189 passengers and crew on board. Several investigations of the crash ensued; Boeing identified a bug in the aircraft’s new “MCAS” system as the culprit, altered it, and issued operating procedures for the pilots. The FAA declared the Boeing 737 Max airworthy again soon afterward.
A few months later, however, the airworthiness of the Boeing 737 Max was flung back into dispute. On March 10, 2019, Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 crashed six minutes after takeoff, killing all 157 people on board. Authorities, noticing similarities between the two crashes, grounded the planes. The two crashes killed 346 people total. Again, investigators suspected the MCAS feature.
Investigators now blame the rogue safety feature for both crashes. Pilots were unaware that new Boeing 737 Max planes were even equipped with the MCAS system, a flight control function that overrode manual piloting in the cockpit and accelerated both planes into nosedives.
Circulating audio files, released from a Boeing question forum before the fatal Ethiopia crash, have also fueled allegations that Boeing was aware of potential MCAS malfunctions. In a hearing between the time of the Indonesian flight crash and the Ethiopian flight crash, pilots warned Boeing representatives about the dangers of the unpredictable MCAS feature. Several expressed outrage that the operator manual did not even mention the system, let alone its power to override manual piloting.
With suits already filed by the victims’ families, Boeing’s shareholders, and several major airlines, Boeing is beset by lawsuits because of the two crashes. Dozens of countries banned the Boeing 737 Max from their airspaces following the two deadly crashes. Boeing shareholders have initiated lawsuits against Boeing, claiming they were defrauded by the manufacturer’s known safety deficiencies. Airlines that fly the Boeing 737 Max have grounded the planes and cancelled hundreds of flights, and many are now suing Boeing for damages.
Broken-hearted loved ones and concerned watchdogs across the globe have called out Boeing for unsafe practices. Many accuse Boeing of prioritizing profit over safety. Others also blame the FAA for allowing Boeing to partially certify itself and for deeming the Boeing 737 Max airworthy, even against pilot warnings. While Boeing could pay tremendous damages to victims’ families, they have certainly taken incalculable damage to their reputation.
Plane crashes can cause devastating injuries and loss of life. Sadly, many are also preventable. If you have been injured or you have lost a loved one in a plane crash, you should speak to an experienced airplane accident attorney to learn your legal options.