Fallout from the two deadly Boeing 737 MAX crashes has reached the pilots that are qualified to fly the aircraft and 400 of them have filed a class action lawsuit against Boeing. The plaintiff pilots all work for the same unnamed airline.
The originating plaintiff, known as Plaintiff X, is remaining anonymous for fear of retaliation from Boeing and discrimination from Boeing customers. After viewing court documents, ABC News reported that the lawsuit alleges that Boeing “engaged in an unprecedented cover-up of the known design flaws of the MAX, which predictably resulted in the crashes of two MAX aircraft and subsequent grounding of all MAX aircraft worldwide.” The plaintiffs further allege that because of Boeing’s decisions that lead to the grounding, the pilots have suffered economic damages, including lost wages.
The lawsuit was filed the same week as the Paris Air Show, where Boeing was working to salvage its brand including offering staged and weak concessions that it made “mistakes” regarding the 737 MAX aircraft.
“Boeing’s actions were more than mere mistakes, they were conscious and deliberate decisions that were motivated by greed,” said Beasley Allen’s Mike Andrews who recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of a widow of a victim in the Ethiopian Airlines crash, the second of the two crashes. “The two MAX tragedies not only claimed the lives of 346 people and devastated those families, they also spawned economic challenges such as those implicated in this lawsuit and many others affecting airlines and global economies.”
The 737 MAX aircraft were grounded worldwide following the Ethiopian Airlines crash. The primary cause for concern is the malfunctioning Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) flight control system that was secretly added to the aircraft’s updated, fourth-generation design. Shortly after the first crash, involving Lion Air Flight 610, three of the largest pilots’ unions in the U.S. along with Lion Air, raised questions and concerns that Boeing failed to inform pilots about the MCAS.
Investigations into both crashes continue uncovering more information about the decisions that led to the tragedies. Reports show that Boeing was aware of the problems with its 737 redesign and the flawed MCAS, but during the certification process it submitted false data and information about the new system in “self-certifying” reports to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which is charged with, among other things, regulating the safety of aircraft in the U.S. This has also called into question the level of independence, transparency and thoroughness of the FAA’s review process regarding new aircraft.
Boeing has further admitted to failing to inform the public, for more than a year, about two critical safety features of the MAX aircraft that were not performing as airlines would have expected.
The aircraft manufacturing giant is not only facing lawsuits over the MAX ordeal but is also under investigation by federal authorities and members of Congress.
Mike Andrews, a lawyer in the firm’s Personal Injury and Products Liability section, focuses much of his practice on aviation accident litigation. He has represented people seriously injured in aviation crashes, and the families of those killed in both civilian and military airplane crashes and helicopter crashes. Mike is representing families of Ethiopian Airlines crash victims, and is investigating both deadly Boeing crashes on behalf of families. He also has written a book on the subject to assist other aviation lawyers, “Aviation Litigation & Accident Investigation.” The book offers an overview to the practitioner about the complexities of aviation crash investigation and litigation.