Boeing faces lawsuit from family members of Sriwijaya Air Crash

Family members’ lawyers believe the Boeing 737-500’s autothrottle failed and caused or contributed to the fatal crash.

Boeing is facing a lawsuit related to the Sriwijaya Air Flight SJ182 crash in Indonesia. The Boeing 737 crashed in the Southeast Asian nation on January 9 of this year, killing all 62 people on board.

The lawsuit, filed in the King County Superior Court on Thursday, claims that a malfunction in the throttle system caused the fatal crash.

Fox Business tells how SJ182 left the Indonesian capital Jakarta for Pontianak on January 9th. Just five minutes after take-off, the Boeing 737-500 crashed into the sea.

While the exact cause of the accident is not yet clear, the victims’ family members and their legal team believe this may be related to the aircraft’s autothrottle system.

A Peruvian Airlines Boeing 737-500, similar to Sriwijaya Air’s. Image via Wikimedia Commons / User: Primx28
. (CCA-BY-4.0). No changes made.

Before the crash, Sriwijaya pilots reported “repeated technical” problems with the autothrottle.

In response, “Technicians tried to fix the problem by cleaning switches and connectors.”

Additionally, the 737, who was involved in the accident, was reportedly grounded for almost a year because of the coronavirus pandemic. However, an airworthiness certificate was issued in December 2020.

Mark Lindquist of the Hermann Law Group, which represents the victims’ families, said Boeing should be held responsible for failing to offer airlines better assistance.

“This is a major public safety issue,” said Lindquist. “As the manufacturer of the aircraft, Boeing has an ongoing obligation to warn airlines and instruct airlines to help them keep the aircraft safe.”

“In that case,” he added, “you have at least two issues that Boeing has not given proper warnings and instructions about. Number one, aircraft parking during the pandemic, and number two, the recurring problems with the autothrottle. “

Lawyers from 16 families of accident victims have compiled a list of previous incidents with throttling systems on older 737 models. In their lawsuit, family members say the aircraft’s troubled history should have resulted in the autothrottle system being redesigned.

“In particular, the automatic throttle can get stuck, causing significant performance differences between the engines, leading to a loss of control of the aircraft,” the lawsuit said. “Boeing has not given adequate warnings and instructions on how to respond to automatic throttle failure.”

The Seattle Times notes that the Sriwijaya SJ182 used a Boeing 737-500 built in 1994.

Since the aircraft was several decades old, its autothrottle system does not comply with modern safety regulations.

Lawyer Lara Hermann of the Hermann Law Group said her clients believe that the United States’ judicial system is the best opportunity for justice.

“We strive for justice for Indonesian citizens in the US because our judicial system works for everyone,” Hermann said in a statement.

Fox Business notes that the automatic throttle system is not related to the automated flight control mechanism that contributed to a Lion Air crash in October 2018, nor to the crash in Ethiopia a few months later. Both incidents concerned the Boeing 737 MAX 8.

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