• Tom Jordan

Boeing has dealt with majority of Lion Air 737 MAX compensation claims

It has today been reported by Reuters that more than 90% of wrongful death claims filed in the US federal court relating to the 2018 crash of Lion Air Flight 610, which crashed into Java Sea because of a design flaw with the MCAS system fitted to the brand new aircraft, have been settled.

Boeing 737 MAX 9 touching down at Boeing Field. Photo by Brandon Farris | AeroNewsX

The Boeing 737 MAX was first conceived in August 2011 as the fifth generation of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft family, in response to stiff competition from a new Airbus design; the Airbus A320neo family which received a major order from previously loyal Boeing customer, American Airlines in July 2011.

The new 737 MAX family was created with five different sub types; the MAX 7, MAX 8, MAX 9, MAX 10 and MAX 200 in order to effectively compete with the Airbus A320neo family of aircraft. The MAX also incorporated the latest CFM Leap 1B engines, as well as new fly-by-wire technologies in the cockpit and a Boeing Sky Interior. Orders for the re-engined 737 MAX amassed quickly, and on March 8th 2017, the 737 MAX received its FAA and EASA certification ahead of delivery to launch customer Southwest Airlines.

After one year of service over 130 Boeing 737 MAXs had been delivered. On the 29th of October 2018, however, tragedy struck when a brand new Boeing 737 MAX 8 of Indonesian airline Lion Air nose-dived into the Java Sea shortly after takeoff from Jakarta. An investigation by the Indonesian Civil Aviation Authority was begun immediately but a conclusion on the exact cause had not been reached in time to prevent the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa just four months later on the 10th of March 2019. The cause of the two accidents was soon found to be linked to a new technology developed by Boeing and installed in all 737 MAX aircraft called MCAS (Manuvering Characteristics Augmentation System). Within the following weeks, all flying 737 MAX aircraft were swiftly grounded indefinitely and have remained parked ever since.

Boeing was found to be ultimately responsible for its failure to notify flight crews of the new technology within the aircraft in order to reduce training costs when transferring from the 737 NG to 737 MAX, a factor which was found to contribute to the two accidents. This finding however, did not bring back the loved ones lost in the accidents and families of those lost in the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes began to launch a barrage of lawsuits against the airplanes manufacturer Boeing.

Today, following an announcement earlier this week that the 737 MAX had operated its FAA recertification flight process, Boeing made the announcement that 90% of all lawsuits filed against it relating to the Lion Air 610 accident had been settled, either fully or partially. Boeing has reported that claims relating to 171 of the 189 passengers on the doomed jet had been settled in a Chicago court. This figure includes 140 of the 150 claims filed in the US District Court of Illinois in relation to the accident and the loss of loved ones.

A Boeing spokesperson said the company remained committed to resolving the remainder of the claims filed and expressed its deepest condolences to the families of those lost in the crash of Lion Air Flight 610. The Boeing spokesperson also stated the company was "pleased to have made significant progress in recent months in resolving cases brought by the families of victims."

However, Boeing declined to comment on how much it had paid victim's families or estates. Although, other sources, such as Reuters, state that some claims received in excess of $1.2 million US dollars.

Presently the Boeing 737 MAX remains grounded, however Boeing is overcoming significant hurdles to rectify the issues with the stricken aircraft and aims to have full recertification in September of this year with both the EASA and the FAA.

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