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Boeing sued in what may be first US claim tied to Lion Air flight crash

Three US pilots' unions have raised concern about what they say is a lack of information provided by Boeing on the safety system

Bob Van Voris | Bloomberg 

Indonesia plane crash, lion air
A member of Indonesian National Search and Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) inspects debris recovered from the area where a Lion Air passenger jet is suspected to crash, at Tanjung Priok Port in Jakarta. Photo: PTI

Co. has been sued in what may be the first U.S. claim tied to the crash of Flight 610, which dove into the Java Sea after taking off from Jakarta Oct. 29.

H. Irianto, the father of Dr. Rio Nanda Pratama, an Indonesian man who was among 189 killed in the disaster, sued on Wednesday in state court in Chicago, where the airline manufacturer is headquartered. Irianto claims a new flight-control system incorporated in the 737 MAX 8 airliner caused the crash. He’s seeking unspecified damages.

Investigators believe an erroneous sensor prompted a computerized safety system to aggressively push the jet into a dive as pilots were trying to deal with multiple malfunctions. Boeing and U.S. aviation regulators are considering whether to add a software fix to the 737 Max. Three U.S. pilots’ unions have raised concern about what they say is a lack of information provided by Boeing on the safety system.

Boeing spokesman Chaz Bickers declined to comment on the lawsuit or the crash investigation, but reiterated an earlier statement that the company is “taking every measure to fully understand all aspects of this incident, working closely with the investigating team and all regulatory authorities involved.”

He added, “We are confident in the safety of the 737 MAX.”

Southwest Airlines Co., the biggest operator of the 737 Max 8, replaced two malfunctioning flight-control sensors of the same type during the three weeks before the craft, Wall Street Journal said, citing a summary of the U.S. carrier’s maintenance record it reviewed. Southwest pilots reported that they couldn’t engage throttle settings, it said.

Southwest didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comments on the Journal report. Boeing said it provided two updates to operators around the world , re-emphasizing existing procedures for these situations. Safety remains its top priority, it said.

The case is Irianto v. Boeing Co., 2108-L-012384, Illinois Circuit Court, Cook County (Chicago).

First Published: Fri, November 16 2018. 09:44 IST
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