Over 400 pilots in the US have joined to file a lawsuit against Boeing, accusing the company of covering up “known design flaws” on the company’s 737 MAX aircraft.
The MAX was involved in two fatal crashes within a period of one year; the first off the coast of Indonesia in October 2018, killing 189 passengers and crew – and the second in Ethiopia, in March 2019, killing 157 passengers and crew. Following the crashes, the MAX aircraft has been grounded by airline companies worldwide. The lawsuit charges the company with causing the crashes because of this cover-up.
Boeing, a giant aircraft company, had introduced this aircraft in 2017. It had installed new software (MCAS) particular to this aircraft which was supposed to prevent a crash. However, in a rush to sell the plane to customers, Boeing did not alert the airlines to the software; it did not want to delay commercial deployment of the plane by indicating to its customers that any new training was required. When the data from the crashed aircraft operated by the Indonesian airline was analysed, it clearly showed that the repeated commands from the MCAS system sent the aircraft plummeting into the sea. The pilots had not been trained to disable the system if it was sending wrong signals.
There are other instances of Boeing deliberately deviating from safety protocols. In 2014, Boeing got the Obama administration to agree that the company can appoint its own representatives for the safety certification process in place of the Federal Aviation Administration, a government body that is supposed to audit all safety processes. This deviation allowed Boeing to effectively self certify the MCAS software as safe.
Clearly, Boeing is guilty of a horrendous crime. Aircrafts carry hundreds of passengers and their safety is dependent on sound design, experienced and trained pilots and a number of precautionary protocols that must be applied in the event of unprecedented emergencies. Hundreds of human lives are at risk, if the pilots do not have full knowledge of the aircraft’s engineering and have not been trained to know the peculiarities of each model of aircraft – all for the sake of speedy commercial launch of the aircraft. The pilots who have joined the lawsuit clearly point to Boeing and other airplane manufacturers placing corporate profits ahead of the lives of the pilots, crews, and the general public.
Air travel has gotten much safer due to both safety regulation and technical advancements but profit seeking over safety at all costs is destroying that safety.