Nearly two years after a Lion Air 737 MAX in Indonesia crashed just minutes after its take off, killing 189 passengers and crew members aboard, Boeing has announced that settlements have been reached in about 90% of the wrongful death lawsuits brought over problems with the aircraft that caused the plane accident.
Boeing Aerospace Company, the manufacturer of the controversial 737 Max passenger jet, announced that it has settled at least 171 of the 189 claims filed following the fatal October 2018 crash of Lion Air Flight JT 610.
In a filing to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Boeing’s legal team said the manufacturer has resolved the claims either fully or partially. Although details of the Boeing settlements were not disclosed, each family is believed to have received about $1.2 million.
Boeing’s 737 MAX jet was introduced as a passenger airliner in January 2016, but has been grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) since March 13, 2019, following two deadly crashes within a five months, which killed 346 passengers and crew members combined.
The first Boeing 737 accident occurred on October 29, 2018, when Lion Air Flight 610 went down after departing from Jakarta, Indonesia airport, killing all passengers and crew. Investigators determined that the pilots struggled for 11 minutes to keep the plane in the air, likely due to a problem with the plane’s Angle of Attack sensor, which kept forcing the nose of the plane down, with the pilots unable to shut it off.
A second crash occurred involving another Boeing 737 Max which crashed just minutes into its flight on March 10, 2019, killing all 157 passengers and crew on board Ethiopian Airline Flight 302. The entire 737 Max fleet was grounded worldwide shortly after.
Both crashes were initially attributed to the aircrafts’ angle of attack system, which is the attitude of the wings in relation to airflow. When air flows over the wings at the correct angle, you get lift, which is what makes a plane fly. If the air is not flowing over the wings properly, the plane can stall, which occurs when it loses lift and begins to fall out of the sky.
As the lawsuits against the manufacturer continue to settle, nearly 400 Boeing 737 Max jets remain grounded as they go through an extension approval process.
Boeing announced it began test flights without passenger’s this past week, after making a series of wiring and software updates to correct the AOA system. If cleared by U.S. aviation regulators the changes could put the planes back into service fairly quickly.
However, Boeing still faces a large hurdle of receiving acceptance to allow the planes to return to operation from other country officials, where many of the planes are currently stationed. Reports indicate that before those approvals can take place, pilots will be required to spend a significant amount of time in simulation training to understand how to respond to the AOA safety system.