Boeing seems to be recording more lawsuits this year than it has recorded orders for its 737 Max planes. The latest development has seen the company sued by 400 pilots for the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes that claimed 346 lives. However, these pilots are keeping their identities hidden for a good reason.
The plaintiffs are seeking millions of dollars in damages under the name Pilot X. This is the first legal action against Boeing by Pilots qualified to fly the 737 MAX series since both crashes. The pilots said the crashes have caused them monetary loss and mental distress.
This is the third kind of lawsuit Boeing has been faced with since the Ethiopian Airlines crash in March. Boeing had previously been sued by families and relatives who lost loved ones in both Lion Air and Ethiopian Air crash, as well as Norwegian Air which filed a suit against Boeing for its grounded planes.
Why the pilots won’t reveal identities: The pilots said they have chosen to remain anonymous due to fear of reprisal from Boeing and discrimination from Boeing customers. The fear of condemnation could have been caused by the sympathy being enjoyed by Boeing from airline operators, most of which have chosen to remain with Boeing despite the global ban on its 737 Max model.
Why the pilots are suing Boeing: Aside the mental distress and monetary loss, the pilots said the following warranted the lawsuit;
Boeing kept the information about its MCAS secret when the 737 Max planes began operation in 2017. According to the pilots, Boeing placed larger engines on its existing 737 model’s fuselage to produce the 737 Max, which caused a change in aerodynamics, thereby, making the plane prone to pitching up during flight which could result into a crash.
So to prevent the pitching up, Boeing introduced MCAS software to the MAX, which automatically tilted the plane down if the software detected that the plane’s nose was pointing at too steep of an angle, known as a high Angle of Attack (AOA). The MCAS has been linked as reason for the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines’ crashes.
[READ ALSO: Boeing CEO admits error in 737-Max 8 software]
Boeing avoided training the pilots by rushing delivery to its customers (airline operators) so that its customers could deploy pilots on “revenue-generating routes as quickly as possible”. Informing pilots about the new software would have prompted the need for MCAS training, which would have required extra expenses.
Pilot X sued Boeing to deter other plane manufacturers from prioritising profit ahead of safety, lives of the pilots, crews, and the general public they serve.
Also, an administrative claim against FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) would be filed, with an out-of-court claim seeking compensatory damages for them and more than 400 colleagues who work for the same airline.
The Boeing 737 Max planes remain banned globally and no time-frame set for its return yet, although industry players have predicted the second half of the year and fourth quarter of 2019.