(Chicago, IL) A lawsuit has been filed in Federal Court in the Northern District of Illinois by attorney Benny Agosto, Jr. of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner and attorney Adam Ramji of the Ramji Law Group against The Boeing Company, after the March 10, 2019 crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.
This lawsuit is a wrongful death and survival action for damages arising out of the March 10, 2019 crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. The lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the families, including spouses and minor children, of three passengers who were killed on this flight. The Boeing 737 MAX aircraft took off from Addis Ababa Bole Int. Airport bound to Nairobi, Kenya Jomo Kenyatta Int. Airport killing all 157 passengers on board, including Plaintiffs’ loved ones.
Currently, Boeing’s 737 MAX is the top-selling model with over three hundred 737 MAX 8’s registered around the world and utilized by major U.S. airlines, including Southwest and American. The Boeing 737 MAX 8 differs from previous 737 aircraft models as it was designed to have more powerful engines to compete with the European Airbus commercial aircraft.
With a more powerful engine, the flight characteristics of the aircraft are sufficiently different from other 737 models to have required extensive pilot training and a new pilot type-rating. Boeing sold the aircraft with the understanding that the original 737 type-rating would allow a pilot to fly the new model. The more powerful 737 Max engine is heavier, and thus altered the aerodynamic balance and flight characteristics. As an example, with the application of thrust, the aircraft was more susceptible to a higher pitch configuration, thereby potentially creating an excessive Angle of Attack (“AoA”) during climb, thus a greater risk for stalling and ultimately crashing the aircraft.
The Angle of Attack (“AoA”) is the angle at which the wing of an aircraft meets the air or the Relative Wind. When an aircraft stalls, or loses its ability to maintain safe flight control, it can be caused by an excessive angle of attack. Boeing sought to address this dangerous development on the 737 MAX 8 by designing and installing an automatic flight control system called MCAS, i.e., the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System. The MCAS system was supposed to properly stabilize the aircraft in flight; unfortunately, this flight control system was inexcusably and unreasonably dangerous. The MCAS system pushes down the nose of the aircraft when it perceives an abnormality associated with AoA, whether or not that abnormality actually existed.
Boeing failed to provide proper notification to pilots regarding when the MCAS was operating and active on the 737 MAX. Pilots were not warned that in certain circumstances it might cause the airplane to precariously pitch down, or automatically force the airplane into a cycle of recurring and powerful dives. In addition, Boeing did not provide pilots with sufficient information about how to properly respond to an MCAS that is forcing unwarranted and repeated dives that prevent a safe recovery.
If the AoA sensor detects what it believes is an abnormality associated with one of the AoA sensors, the MCAS automatically adjusts the plane’s horizontal stabilizer or tail section to move up, thereby causing the nose to pitch down to prevent what it perceives to be an imminent airframe stall. Unfortunately, instead of utilizing multiple safety sensors, the 737 MAX 8 relies upon only one of the AoA sensors; therefore, if the AoA sensor provides incorrect or contradictory data to the MCAS, the system will automatically force the aircraft into an unwarranted and forceful dive in a hazardous failure mode.
The crash ultimately occurred because Boeing defectively designed its new flight control system for the Boeing 737 MAX 8. Without pilot command, the new system automatically and erroneously forces the aircraft into a dangerous and uncontrollable nose down flight attitude. Inexcusably, Boeing failed to warn and establish proper training guidelines for pilots of the 737 MAX 8.