More families of victims of the Lion Air crash in Indonesia are suing Boeing Co. after its chief executive apologized and said a software update for the MAX 8 jet would prevent further disasters.
Family members and lawyers said Monday that CEO Dennis Muilenburg’s comment related to an automated flight system in a video statement last week was an admission that helps their cases.
The anti-stall system is suspected as a cause of the Lion Air crash in October and an Ethiopian Airlines crash in March that also involved a MAX 8 jet. The two crashes killed a total of 346 people.
Preliminary reports into both crashes found that faulty sensor readings erroneously triggered the anti-stall system that pushed the plane’s nose down. Pilots of each plane struggled in vain to regain control.
Families of 11 Lion Air victims said at a news conference organized by Jakarta law firm Kailimang & Ponto that they are joining dozens of other Indonesian families in filing lawsuits against Boeing.
“Boeing’s CEO explicitly apologized to 346 passenger families,” said Merdian Agustin, whose husband died in the crash. “We hope this is good momentum to have compensation rights.”
Agustin, the mother of three children, said that she and dozens of other families have not received 1.2 billion rupiah ($85,000) compensation they are entitled to in Indonesia because they refused to sign a “release and discharge” document that extinguishes their right to sue Lion Air, Boeing or their subsidiaries.
“We refused to sign such a document containing statements that are treating our loved ones like lost baggage,” Agustin said. “It’s ridiculous and hurts us.”
Lawyer Michael Indrajana said that since the crash, families in Indonesia have faced a complicated and painful process against Boeing and Lion Air in their battle to get compensation.
He said the Boeing CEO’s statement shows the airline is now acknowledging responsibility.
“No amount of money can bring their loved ones back,” he said. “We want to fight for the orphans, so they have the opportunity to get a better future.”
The Associated Press