The families of the Boeing 737 MAX crash victims have sent a letter lobbying US lawmakers to ensure Boeing is held accountable for the accidents that killed a total of 346 people.
The US planemaker is currently facing around 100 lawsuits from families of 157 victims of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX crash that occurred in March 2019, the second fatal crash caused by the aircraft’s operating software.
To date, Boeing has argued that it is immune from liability, as the aircraft was certified for commercial use by the US Federal Aviation Administration, court documents have shown.
The Chicago-based planemaker has previously faced allegations of asserting undue influence over certification efforts at the FAA, with staff within the federal agency reporting “strong external pressure” placed on them when making calls on safety.
In the letter to lawmakers, the families of the 737 MAX crash victims said Boeing should not be allowed to “hide behind” FAA certification and shift the blame when a certified plane turns out to be defective.
“No amount of regulation should shield Boeing and other manufacturers from responsibility when airplanes crash and kill innocent people,” the letter said.
A spokesman from Boeing has said the plane manufacturer has offered to “work with the victims’ families to schedule mediations, to discuss settlement of claims on terms that fairly compensate them and are committed to this mediation process”.
Yet, some of the victims’ families are intending to pursue a jury trial, which would see greater access to Boeing’s internal records and deeper scrutiny into the company’s influence over the FAA.
“Accountability is the best way to encourage the design and manufacture of safe airplanes — so this does not happen again,” the letter said.
The letter has been sent ahead of a Senate Commerce Committee vote on Wednesday, which could see sweeping reforms to how the FAA certifies new aircraft.
Meanwhile, Boeing has already settled the majority of lawsuits related to the first 737 MAX crash, Lion Air flight 610, yet remains the target of a US federal criminal probe, and further investigations by US lawmakers and aviation and transportation authorities.