Life Travel Lion Air tragedy: Grieving families sue Boeing over flight-control sensor system

Lion Air tragedy: Grieving families sue Boeing over flight-control sensor system

Families are suing Boeing after the devastating Lion Air tragedy. Photo: Getty
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Families of victims who died in Indonesia’s Lion Air Crash are suing Boeing after its 737 MAX 8 crashed moments after takeoff, killing 189 people. 

A lawsuit filed in the United States District Court by aviation specialists Wisner Law Firm on behalf of families of passengers on Monday, refers to a flight control feature on the Lion Air plane that may have played a role in its crash.

The court documents viewed by The New Daily reveal: “One or more of the sensors on the accident aircraft failed and provided erroneous information to the accident aircraft’s flight control system as to the accident aircraft’s angle of attack.”

“The flight control system of the accident aircraft failed to filter out this erroneous information and commanded the accident aircraft to go into a dangerous downward dive.”

Wisner also stated in the report that Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Administration issued a warning after the air crash, claiming the subject sensors could provide incorrect information and cause the aircraft to assume an extreme nose-down attitude and possible impact with terrain.

A forensic investigator looks through the remains of the ill-fated Lion Air flight at the Tanjung Priok port. Photo: Getty

Responding to a request for comment on the lawsuit, Boeing spokesman Paul Bergman told The Washington Post,  “we extend our heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the families and loved ones of those on board.”

Joseph Wheeler, principal lawyer at the International Aerospace Law & Policy Group, said families could certainly sue before an official accident investigation was complete.

“Typically this is how it works, because accident investigation reports cannot be used in evidence anyway, under international air law,” Mr Wheeler told The New Daily.

He said he would be advising future clients to ensure they had sufficient evidence to pursue any potential defendants. 

“Speculation and innuendo, even in the face of seemingly ‘damning’ information, is simply premature. Lawsuits are based on evidence, and cannot be successful without prudent recourse to the same,” he said. 

But recent revelations have emerged that pilots weren’t trained on a new automated flight control feature in the 737 MAX 8. 

“It is something we did not have before in any of our training. It wasn’t in our books. American [Airlines] didn’t have it,” Dennis Tajer, a 737 pilot and spokesman for the pilots union at American Airlines told Fox Business

Families visit the crash site to pay their tributes. Photo: Getty

The Australian reported on Friday that Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee aviation head, Nurcahyo Utomo, said recordings suggested the captain and co-pilot were faced with different airspeed readings as the plane soared into the ground.

A new anti-stall device fitted to the plane may have malfunctioned due to incorrect airspeed information reaching the automated flight controls.

This could have potentially set flaps on the plane to automatically “trim down” sending its nose down as the controls tried to correct what it thought was the pilots pushing the nose up.

While the cause of the crash has not yet been determined, a full investigation expected to be finalised later this month.

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