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Boeing to reveal exactly what execs knew of MAX failures ahead of second crash

written by Hannah Dowling | March 12, 2021

An Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX (Australian Aviation archives)

Boeing has officially been requested to hand over thousands of documents that will reveal exactly what the planemaker, and its prominent staff, knew about the nature of the first fatal 737 MAX crash prior to the second, five months later.

A class action suit against Boeing taken out by the families of the victims of the second fatal 737 MAX crash has successfully demanded Boeing to turn in said documents, as the bereaved families search for answers.

Following the lobbying of the victim’s families of Ethiopian Flight 302, the second of two fatal 737 MAX crashes that killed 346 people combined, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has informed Boeing via letter to turn over around 2,000 documents to lawyers representing the families.

The documents requested should provide insight into exactly what the company knew about its flight systems and the potential dangers it posed following the crash of Lion Air flight 610, which crashed just five months prior to Ethiopian flight 302.

In the letter, the NTSB reiterated that international rules mandate the release of such documents after two years of the crash date.

However, there has still not yet been a final crash report released regarding the second crash, Ethiopian flight 302, which has, to date, held back said documents.

In response, Boeing has said it will begin to produce the relevant documents to the plaintiffs from Friday.


The lawyers representing the victims’ families said they expect the documents to reveal that Boeing executives were aware of the danger posed by the 737 MAX’s in-flight system, MCAS, after the initial investigation into the Lion Air crash.

That would suggest that Boeing made no attempt to ground the jets, or rectify the issue, and rather let the MAX continue to fly around the world, until the occurrence happened again with the Ethiopian crash.

“What we want to see are the documents upon which Boeing resisted the grounding of the airplane and based its assertion to its customers that the airplane was safe,” plaintiffs’ attorney Justin Green told Reuters.

Should evidence suggest that Boeing executives were aware of an imminent danger present in the MAX, consequences would be unprecedented. It could potentially also see individuals within the company held responsible for the second crash.

Boeing has already copped a massive US$2.5 billion fine from the Department of Justice to settle a criminal probe into the 737 MAX, and has mostly settled the litigation taken out by the families of victims of the Lion Air crash.

Earlier this month, World of Aviation reported that the relatives of the Ethiopian crash had also demanded that top Boeing executives, including both the current and former CEO, testify in front of a Chicago federal court.

In a filing to the court, the families again requested that the court hear testimony from top executives, including current CEO Dave Calhoun and his predecessor Dennis Muilenburg, among other Boeing staff who worked at the company at the time of the crash.

The lawyers representing the plaintiffs were pushing to discover what Boeing knew about the causes of the first MAX crash, which occurred in October 2018, and why the plane was allowed to continue to fly.

The plaintiffs are pushing to schedule depositions of both Calhoun and Muilenburg between 3 May and 18 June 2021.


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