A U.S. Lawsuit Targets Boeing Over the Deadly Ethiopian Airlines Crash

Hillary Leung
The pilots of a Boeing 737 Max jetliner that crashed in Ethiopia last month struggled as the plane’s automated commands pushed the nose down, investigators said.

A wrongful death lawsuit was filed against Boeing in a U.S. federal court Thursday in what appears to be the first litigation over the fatal crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 earlier this month, Reuters reports.

The case was brought by the family of Jackson Musoni, a 31-year-old Rwandan national who was among at least 22 U.N. workers killed in the March 10 tragedy.

The suit alleges that Boeing’s 737 MAX aircraft had a defectively designed automated flight control system and that Boeing failed to warn pilots about the allegedly faulty sensors. The ill-fated Flight 302 lost control minutes after takeoff from Ethiopia capital’s Addis Adaba and the crash killed all 157 people on board.

Following the crash, dozens of countries and airlines grounded the 737 MAX. The same aircraft was involved in Indonesian carrier Lion Air’s wreckage last October, which killed 189 people.

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg issued a statement on March 17 saying that the company is “working with the authorities to evaluate new information as it becomes available.”

On Wednesday, Boeing announced it would be making changes to the 737 MAX 8 aircraft, which only entered into commercial service in 2017. An extra warning system, previously provided only as an optional, paid upgrade, will now become standard issue. Neither the Indonesian, nor the Ethiopian aircraft had the system installed.

Additionally, the plane-maker has reprogramed the aircraft’s anti-stall software, which is believed to have repeatedly forced the aircraft’s nose to lower, causing pilots to lose control in at least one of the crashes.

The Federal Aviation Administration also said it plans to revamp oversight of airplane development.

A preliminary report on the Ethiopian Airlines crash is expected to be made public later this week.