Shocking: Aviation law firms react to US House Transportation Committee hearing on Boeing 737-8 MAX

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Justin Green, military-trained pilot and partner at law firm Kreindler & Kreindler LLP, reacted to today’s U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure hearing on the Status of the Boeing 737 MAX, saying, “It is shocking to the families that FAA Acting Administrator Daniel Elwell described the FAA’s certification system as ‘robust’ and ‘good’ when it permitted Boeing to sell an airplane that was so unsafe that the FAA had to issue an emergency order prohibiting airlines from flying the airplane.”

Additionally, Green continued with the following statement:

“Elwell’s testimony to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee raised more questions than answers. He claimed that the FAA was ‘directly involved’ in approving the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) that is implicated in the Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 aviation disasters. But the fact is that the FAA did not treat the MCAS as a critical safety risk because Boeing told the FAA that the system could not cause a ‘catastrophic event’ and that the MCAS is only now undergoing a proper safety review for the first time. Elwell admits that the ‘MCAS should have been more adequately explained in the [Boeing operations] manual and flight manual, absolutely.’ But the FAA approved those manuals without any discussion of the MCAS.”

Kreindler partner Anthony Tarricone, former President of the American Association for Justice (AAJ), notes that:

“Mr. Elwell was either unable or unwilling to describe any meaningful improvements the FAA is making to its certification processes and oversight. The Boeing MAX issue should be a wakeup call to the FAA that it needs to separate itself from Boeing’s influence and independently check the safety of Boeing’s airplanes and systems.

“The FAA has taken no action to penalize Boeing even though Boeing represented to the FAA that the MCAS could not cause a catastrophic event and, for over 13 months, did not report to the FAA that a ‘software anomaly’ prevented the Boeing 737-8 MAX’s airplane’s angle of attack sensors disagree lights from operating. Mr. Elwell testified that he was ‘not’ happy that Boeing failed to report the disagree light problem to the FAA, but he seems unwilling to take any action against Boeing.

The Kreindler firm is partnering with the leading Chicago plaintiff firm Power Rogers & Smith, and that firm’s founding partner Todd Smith, also a former AAJ president, responds to today’s testimony by stating:

“The FAA is wrong to push the narrative that the pilots were responsible for the two disasters because the Boeing MCAS created the hazardous condition that caused the two crashes and the system actually fought against the efforts of the pilots who were trying to save the airplanes. That is why it is so awful to hear Mr. Elwell blame the pilots for the accidents. Modern aviation safety systems are designed to prevent pilot error from causing the loss of an airplane. The MCAS does the opposite – it creates the hazardous condition and induces the pilot error.

“The Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 families we represent have no confidence in the FAA. They believe that the FAA has been captured by the industry it is supposed to regulate and take great offense by Mr. Elwell’s attempts to downplay the problems in the Boeing MCAS system and in the FAA’s certification of the airplane. The FAA continues to side with Boeing against aviation safety.”

New York-based Kreindler, along with co-counsel, Chicago-based Power Rogers & Smith L.L.P., have filed several wrongful death federal lawsuits against Boeing Company and Rosemount Aerospace, Inc. with additional claims to be filed tomorrow on behalf of victims who were among the 157 people killed in the March 10, 2019 ET302 plane crash in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Boeing 737-8 MAX fatal crashes in Ethiopia and previously in Indonesia have claimed 346 lives and led to the world-wide grounding of the fleet.

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