Traveling by airplane is statistically the safest method of transportation in the world. In fact, David Ropiek, a risk communication instructor at Harvard University, estimates that the likelihood of dying in a plane crash is about 1 in 11 million – in other words, you’re more likely to be struck by lightning. But what happens when a too-big-to-fail airplane manufacturer knowingly ignores rectifiable safety defects?
This is the troubling situation Boeing is facing with the Boeing 737 Max 8.
A History of Negligence
The Boeing Company became the focus of countless article headlines in 2019 after two Boeing 737 Max 8 jets crashed in Indonesia (Lion Air Flight 610) and Ethiopia (Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302). For a while, the manufacturing giant tried to dodge responsibility – and penalties – by claiming the crashes were freak accidents caused by a software problem, but American journalists refused to let the matter slide. Their investigations into the “whys” and “how’s” uncovered a history of negligent and illicit activities. Worse, they exposed that FAA regulators had failed to launch over a dozen legal enforcement cases against the company for failing to comply with safety protocols.
The Boeing Company is facing legal, media, and public scrutiny for the following acts of negligence:
- In 2015, a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) auditor discovered that a Boeing subtractor was falsifying safety certifications on cargo doors for hundreds of 777s.
- Boeing mechanics have been leaving tools (“Foreign Object Debris”) inside plane wings and improperly installing wires in 787s.
- In December 2015, Boeing paid a modest $12 million penalty to the FAA, promising to fix its internal safety systems. In truth, the company made $20 billion that year and decided that it was cheaper to pay the penalty and just ignore the problems.
- An FAA whistleblower revealed that safety inspectors working on the Boeing 737 were underqualified, never completed their formal training, and didn’t receive Certified Instructor certificates – all basic requirements for the job.
- Boeing knew about the software problems in the 737s for at least a year and never remedied the defect.
The recent Boeing crashes are another case of corporate and investor interests trumping public safety. Multiple airlines, including Southwest and United, have pulled the Boeing 737 Max 8 from flight schedules until February 2020, a tentative return date. Last September, Boeing promised to pay $144,500 to families affected by the crashes. The company also plans to spend $100 million to fund economic and education projects for the communities that were impacted by the devastating incidents. Fortunately, media attention is keeping the company in line, so hopefully they won’t try to engage in negligent misconduct in the near future.
Injured in an Aviation Accident? Call The Stewart Law Firm, PLLC
Airplane accidents are rare, but they usually result in devastating injuries and tragic fatalities. If you require legal representation or guidance after an aviation accident, contact the personal injury attorneys at The Stewart Law Firm, PLLC. We can investigate the incident, evaluate your legal options in compliance with existing federal aviation laws, and negotiate with corporate legal teams and insurers on your behalf.
Contact The Stewart Law Firm, PLLC at (512) 271-5112 to arrange a free consultation today.