An anonymous pilot is suing Boeing, alleging the company “demonstrated reckless indifference and conscious disregard for the flying public” in its development of the troubled 737 Max.
Brisbane, Australia-based International Aerospace Law & Policy Group and Chicago-based law firm PMJ PLLC this weekend filed a class action lawsuit against Boeing on behalf of more than 400 pilots from a major international airline claiming compensatory damages from the grounding of the 737 Max fleet, air transport website AINonline reported.
The pilots fly for an airline that also employs a 737 Max pilot known only as Pilot X, who wishes to remain unidentified for fear of reprisal. Pilot X filed a lawsuit individually late last month, claiming present and future losses stemming from the “psychological impact” of the two crashes that ultimately led to the aircraft’s grounding, the report said.
A statement from IALPG said the claimants haven’t yet tallied a figure for damages, but the law firm estimates losses in the millions of dollars.
“Since pilot income and career certainty have been adversely affected by Boeing’s focus on profits over safety the lawsuit is being filed now, at the time of the 53rd International Paris Air Show, to send a message to Boeing that its desire for aircraft sales must never again impact on aviation safety,” said the statement.
“When regulators worldwide faced doubts about the safety of Boeing’s 737 Max design, they acted decisively to ground the aircraft,” noted IALPG principal and legal practice director Joseph Wheeler in the report.
“Boeing’s failures effectively grounded a legion of pilots too, pilots who were not aware that the equipment they had to fly was defective and dangerously designed. Many pilots worldwide have either been laid off, made to relocate bases, or at least suffered significant diminishment to flight opportunities and pay. We applaud the courage of Pilot X to hold Boeing responsible for the losses these pilots face.”
Pilot X has filed a separate administrative claim to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. According to PMJ managing partner Patrick Jones, Pilot X plans to file a lawsuit against the U.S. government for negligence on the part of the FAA if his counsel deems the FAA’s response inadequate, the report said.
“The allegations reflect the widely held view that Boeing put its corporate profits ahead of aviation safety as well as the safety of those in the aviation world who put their trust in Boeing most: pilots and their passengers,” said Jones.
The claim brought against Boeing hinges on the controversial addition of an automated piece of software known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). Pilot X claimed that this gave the aircraft “inherently dangerous aerodynamic handling defects.”
Three of China’s largest airlines have joined a growing list of carriers demanding compensation from Boeing over the grounding of its 737 Max aircraft, CNN reported.
Air China, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines told CNN Business that they have asked to be reimbursed for costs they have incurred since the plane was deemed unsafe to fly following two crashes.
China Southern has as many as 24 737 Max jets and Air China has 15 of the planes in its fleet, spokespeople for the companies said. China Eastern has 14 737 Max planes, according to Chinese state-run media, the report said.
The 737 Max, Boeing’s best-selling plane, has been grounded since March after an Ethiopian Airlines crash killed all 157 people on March 9. The aircraft in the Ethiopia crash was the same type of plane as the Indonesian Lion Air jet that crashed on Oct. 29, killing 189 people.
Meanwhile, Time.com reported that Boeing’s 737 MAX should be back in the air by December, citing a top U.S. regulator.
Ali Bahrami, the Federal Aviation Administration’s associate administrator for aviation safety, said at a press conference in Cologne, Germany, that it’s not possible to give an exact date as work progresses on safety fixes to the aircraft.
While the FAA is “under a lot of pressure,” he said the Max will be returned to service “when we believe it will be safe,” following reviews of the design, flight testing and other checks.