An Indonesian man who lost his son in the Oct. 29 Lion Air crash has filed a lawsuit against Boeing, alleging the airplane manufacturer failed to adequately inform pilots about a design issue with the 737-Max 8.
The wrongful death suit was filed Wednesday in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, where Boeing is headquartered, on behalf of H. Irianto, the father of Dr. Rio Nanda Pratama.
Pratama, who had been attending a medical conference in Jakarta, took Lion Air Flight JT 610 home to prepare for his wedding to Intan Syari, scheduled for Nov. 11. Instead, his loved ones gathered for his funeral on Nov. 6.
Pratama died along with 188 others when the two-month-old Lion Air Boeing 737-Max 8 crashed into the Java Sea at high speed shortly after takeoff from Jakarta on Oct. 29. Moments before, the pilot had requested permission to return to Jakarta because of a problem controlling the aircraft.
Flight recorder data later revealed the doomed plane’s airspeed sensor had malfunctioned four times.
A week after the crash, both Boeing and the FAA issued bulletins to pilots warning of an issue with a stall-prevention feature intended to help them avoid raising a plane’s nose dangerously high. But if the command receives faulty airspeed sensor data, as investigators believe happened with the Lion Air jet, it can instead trigger a dive that pilots may not be able to manually correct in time to avoid a crash.
“At no relevant time prior to the crash of Lion Air Flight 610 into the Java Sea did Boeing adequately warn Lion Air or its pilots of the unsafe condition caused by the new ‘auto-diving’ design of the 737 MAX 8 flight system,” Irianto’s suit alleged.
The suit claims that Boeing’s directive, which included new instructions on how to recognize and compensate for the issue, was issued too late.
The suit also cited reports from a number of U.S. pilots who said the issue was not covered in Boeing’s training or documentation, noting, “It was surprising to hear from safety experts and the heads of pilots’ unions that Boeing failed to warn its customers and the pilots of its new 737 Max aircraft about this significant change in the flight-control systems.”
Two U.S. airlines fly the Boeing 737 Max 8. Southwest has 26 while American Airlines has 16. Combined, the airlines have hundreds more on order.
United Airlines flies another variant, the 737 Max 9, which also is covered by Boeing’s bulletin. None of those U.S. airlines have reported the issue covered by Boeing’s bulletin regarding its 737 Max aircraft.
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