As Boeing Co. unveiled its intended software fix Wednesday for its 737 MAX 8, Beasley Allen of Montgomery and Atlanta announced its own investigation of the crashes involving those aircraft for potential litigation.
Beasley Allen said Mike Andrews, who focuses on aviation litigation, is leading the firm’s efforts to investigate the crashes.
“Boeing’s conduct was unconscionable and led to the deaths of 346 people,” Andrews said in a news release on the firm website Wednesday. “While Boeing prioritized protecting its profits the company knew that its latest iteration of its 737 aircraft was flawed. It ignored and even tried to cover up the aircraft’s deadly problems. Not only is this the basis of possibly hundreds of wrongful death lawsuits, it also prompted an ongoing criminal investigation of Boeing by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General and the Department of Justice.”
On March 10, Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302 departed from Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at 8:38 a.m. local time. The plane was headed to Nairobi, Kenya, when it lost contact with air controllers six minutes later. The crash killed all 189 people on board. Indonesia’s Lion Air Flight 610 crashed Oct. 29, also killing everyone on board. The two aircraft were new Boeing 737 MAX 8, and both aircraft experienced the same type of erratic behavior just before they crashed, according to news reports.
Preliminary investigations tie the crashes to an automatic flight-control system called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, Beasley Allen said. The MCAS was installed after a retrofit to modernize the old Boeing 737 design resulted in a tendency for the plane’s nose to pitch up while in flight. The MCAS was supposed to detect that improper pitch and automatically correct to push the nose of the aircraft back down.
News reports suggested that the planes pointed downward soon after takeoff. When pilots react to the sudden downward motion of the aircraft and pull up on the flight controls, the MCAS again falsely senses a nose-up problem and pushes the nose down again, Beasley Allen said. This results in a tug-of-war between the pilot and the flawed MCAS creating an undulating flight path and causing the plane to lose altitude and airspeed.
Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg released a statement resolving to find out what happened and why.
“Since the moment we learned of the recent 737 MAX accidents, we’ve thought about the lives lost and the impact it has on people around the globe and throughout the aerospace community. All those involved have had to deal with unimaginable pain. We’re humbled by their resilience and inspired by their courage,” Muilenburg said. “With a shared value of safety, be assured that we are bringing all of the resources of The Boeing Company to bear, working together tirelessly to understand what happened and do everything possible to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”
Muilenburg added, “We are all humbled and learning from this experience.”