Southwest and Boeing had a 'reckless, greedy conspiracy' to keep the 737 Max flying despite knowing about its flaws, a new lawsuit alleges

Sinéad Baker
Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 storage

MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images


  • A lawsuit alleges that Boeing and Southwest Airlines conspired to cover up issues with the 737 Max from customers, pilots, and regulators.
  • The lawsuit, from 11 passengers, said that Southwest and Boeing knew about "a fatal design defect" with the plane, but covered it up and insisted the plane was safe.
  • It alleges that Southwest profited from a "collusive relationship" with Boeing, and that the two companies had a "reckless greedy conspiracy" to keep the plane flying despite knowing about defects.
  • "We strongly believe that the allegations made are completely without merit" Southwest said, while Boeing, which faces other lawsuits about the Max, declined to comment.
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

A new lawsuit from passengers accuses Boeing and Southwest Airlines of having a "reckless greedy conspiracy" to launch the 737 Max plane and keep it flying despite safety defects.

The lawsuit says that Southwest, which has a fleet made up entirely of Boeing planes, has a unique relationship with Boeing and that it made consistent profits despite struggles in the industry through a "collusive relationship" with Boeing.

It was filed by 11 Southwest passengers on Thursday in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

Southwest worked with Boeing, the lawsuit alleges, "to protect that relationship — and its streak of profits — when faced with a fatal design defect in Boeing's 737 Max 8 aircraft."

It did so, the suit alleges by "lying to and defrauding, customers, regulators, and its own pilots and employees, risking thousands of lives in the process."

Read more: Here are all the investigations and lawsuits that Boeing and the FAA are facing after the 737 Max crashes killed almost 350 people

It alleges Southwest worked with Boeing to "cover up the defect" with the 737 Max plane that Boeing "rushed" to the market. The suit also says that Southwest and Boeing worked together to "falsely tout the safety of the plane."

Southwest Boeing 737 MAX

Southwest Airlines

The passengers travelled on Boeing 737 Max planes between August 29 2017 and March 2019, when the planes were grounded around the world after the second fatal crash involving the plane model. The two crashes by the Max planes killed 346 people.

The passengers say that they would not have flown on the plane if they knew it was "fatally defective."

"Put simply, Southwest and Boeing conspired to cover up this indisputable fact: The 737 Max 8 was so defective and poorly designed that it could easily kill you."

It alleges that Southwest has worked with Boeing in "seemingly irrational" ways, including only ordering planes from Boeing and "releasing airplanes it had ordered to its own competitors in order to allow Boeing to meet demand for new airplanes."

FILE PHOTO: American civil aviation and Boeing investigators search through the debris at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner/File Photo

Reuters

Southwest has 34 Boeing 737 Max planes in its fleet, more than any other airline in the world.

Like other US airlines, it has cancelled flights involving the plane as it waits Boeing's updates to the jet to be certified by the US Federal Aviation Administration.

In a statement to The Washington Post, Southwest said: "We intend to vigorously defend against the claims in the filing and strongly believe that the allegations made are completely without merit."

"Safety has always been Southwest's most important responsibility to both our Customers and our Employees and we stand ready to fully comply with all requirements to safely return the Max aircraft to service."

Boeing declined to comment on the lawsuit to The Washington Post.

Read more: Pilots have joined a growing number of airlines in demanding payback from Boeing for its 737 Max disasters — here's the full list

The company faces a number of other lawsuits from shareholders, pilots, victims families, as well as federal and Congressional investigations that will look at how the plane was designed and certified to fly.

Many of these lawsuits are similar to the one filed against Boeing and Southwest. Lawyers representing families of the crash victims who spoke to Business Insider say that Boeing knew of safety defects in the plane and that Boeing failed to warn pilots and passengers.

American Airlines pilots also accused Boeing from keeping information about problems with the plane from pilots, accusing the company of having a "poisoned, diseased philosophy."

NOW WATCH: A professional drifter explains the physics behind drifting