Officials of the National Transportation Safety Commission (KNKT) examine a turbine engine from Lion Air flight JT-610 at Tanjung Priok Port in North Jakarta on Nov. 4. (Reuters Photo/Beawiharta)

Parents of Lion Air Crash Victim File US Lawsuit Against Boeing


NOVEMBER 16, 2018

Jakarta. The parents of one of the passengers of Lion Air flight JT-610 have filed a lawsuit in the United States against the manufacturer of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet that crashed into the Java Sea near Jakarta on Oct. 29.

Curtis Miner, lead counsel for the plaintiff, said in a statement on Friday that he had filed the complaint on their behalf against Boeing in the Cook County Circuit Court in Illinois, where the company's headquarters are located.

Miner, who has 15 years' experience in aviation lawsuits, is representing the parents of Rio Nanda Pratama, a young medical doctor who was supposed to get married this week.

"All the families of the victims want to know the truth and causes of this tragedy. The same mistakes must be avoided in the future and those responsible must be brought to justice. I seek justice for my son and all the people who lost their lives in the crash," H. Irianto, Rio's father, said in the statement.

Investigators are still trying to determine why the new Boeing 737 MAX's automated anti-stall system may potentially cause pilots to lose control of the aircraft under certain conditions.

Boeing designed the new flight-control system to assist pilots and avoid them raising the plane's nose dangerously high by mistake. The system works by pulling the nose down when it senses the airplane losing speed. But apparently, the feature could still be activated even if the pilots fly the plane manually and under certain conditions, the system could even prevent a pilot from correcting it to avoid a crash.

Investigators had found that the Boeing 737 MAX flight manual does not describe the situation, while pilots in the United States also claim that they were unaware of the risk.

Following the Lion Air crash, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a new directive on the Boeing 737 MAX, making training on the anti-stall system mandatory.

"It is particularly surprising to hear from safety experts and the heads of pilots unions that Boeing failed to warn its customers and the pilots of its new 737 MAX aircraft about this significant change in the flight-control systems and failed to include appropriate instructions in its instruction manuals," said Austin Bartlett of Chicago-based law firm BartlettChen, who jointly filed the lawsuit.

Miner said under international treaties, official air crash investigations only issue recommendations and do not determine liability.

"This is why legal actions by the families of the victims are so vital," he said.

"The government investigators typically will not make a determination of who is at fault, and just compensation to these families will not be provided by the governmental investigations; that is the critical role of private lawsuits in a tragedy like this," Miner added.