A hearing is scheduled tomorrow (Monday, Jan. 25, 2021, at 9:30 am CET) by the Transport Committee of the European Parliament who has summoned the Executive Director of its civil aviation agency EASA to answer questions regarding the anticipated ungrounding of the dangerous Boeing 737 MAX aircraft after having been grounded nearly two years following two crashes that killed 346 people.
Victims families of the crash of the Boeing aircraft in Ethiopia on March 10, 2019, have been united through having lost loved ones in the second of the deadly crashes. Virginie Fricaudet, who lost her 38-year-old brother Xavier, and president of the European victims’ organization “Flight ET 302 Solidarity and Justice” based in France, have been previously seeking answers from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the agency responsible for civil aviation safety, regarding many issues surrounding the aircraft that still remain unanswered, even in light of the possible ungrounding.
EASA grounded the MAX two days after the Boeing crash in Ethiopia, the second crash of this aircraft in less than four months that killed 346 people including 50 European citizens.
The European Parliament, composed of about 700 representatives elected from citizens of 27 European countries, controls and supervises European organizations such as EASA. Patrick Ky, EASA’s Executive Director, was summoned to Monday’s meeting to urgently report on the recertification procedure for the Boeing 737 MAX after he announced last week that the plane would likely be re-certified this week.
In a letter to the European Parliament dated Jan. 22, Virginie Fricaudet, posed dozens of questions on behalf of the victims’ organization that need to be addressed — ranging from the transparency of EASA to its independence in making an anticipated decision to unground the MAX and, in particular, whether any guarantees of safety of the Boeing 737 MAX are sufficient for future air safety.
The hope is that these questions will be liaised through the European Parliament’s Transport Committee and answered by Ky.
To recall, the United States ungrounded the MAX in November 2020, and Canada ungrounded the aircraft about a week ago amid serious concerns of the victims’ families of the decisions to do so without sufficient safety guarantees that the plane doesn’t crash again.
In a Jan. 22 press release by Solidarity and Justice, it stated, “In our opinion, the re-certification of the Boeing 737 Max by EASA is premature, inappropriate and even dangerous, as we have demonstrated in a technical note written with the support of aeronautical engineers.” The press release goes on to say, “As European citizens, it seems important to us that the Transport Committee should be the guarantor of the re-certification decision that EASA may announce in the coming days, making sure that safety has taken precedence over any other consideration. What is at stake is the safety of millions of passengers, and European citizens expect theforthcoming decision to fully reflect the transparency, performance and independence that must characterize the work of a specialized European agency.” [bold in original document]
The letter to the European Parliament also addresses the agreement that Boeing entered into with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on Jan. 8 that terminated the criminal case against the airline manufacturer. Fricaudet quotes from the DOJ settlement agreement that states that “Boeing’s employees chose the path of profit over candor by concealing material information from the FAA concerning the operation of its 737 aircraft and engaging in an effort to cover up their deception.” The agreement, however, imposed only a mere $243.6 million fine and failed to take criminal action against any Boeing employees or executives leading some to call it the “Boeing Protection Agreement” instead of a deferred prosecution agreement.
“These families are desperately trying to prevent aviation regulators like EASA from again approving a defective Boeing 737MAX aircraft with single points of failure that can cause a catastrophic crash and more deaths,” said Robert A. Clifford, founder of Clifford Law Offices in Chicago and lead counsel of the litigation against Boeing in federal district court in Chicago. “They found no solace in the DOJ’s action, and instead more questions were raised by the settlement from which they and the flying public were kept in the dark. The families of the crash victims believe that they are the subject of a crime and that crime victim protections afforded under U.S. and international law have been violated by the DOJ and Boeing
Clifford represents 72 families in the crash of the Ethiopian flight that killed all 157 on board, including the Fricaudet family.
The Transport Committee hearing will be streamed live from Brussels and can be viewed at www.europarl.europa.eu/committees/fr/tran/meetings/webstreaming on Monday, Jan. 25, 2021 at 9:30 am CET.