Attorneys for the family members believe the Boeing 737-500’s autothrottle failed, causing or contributing to the deadly crash.
Boeing is facing a lawsuit related to the crash of Sriwijaya Air Flight SJ182 in Indonesia. The Boeing 737 crashed in the Southeast Asian nation on January 9th of this year, killing all 62 people aboard.
The lawsuit, filed in King County Superior Court on Thursday, alleges that a malfunctioning throttle system caused the fatal crash.
Fox Business recounts how SJ182 departed the Indonesian capital of Jakarta for Pontianak on January 9th. Just five minutes after takeoff, the Boeing 737-500 plunged into the sea.
While the exact cause of the accident has yet to be determined, the victims’ family members and their legal team believe it was related to the plane’s autothrottle system.
Before the crash, Sriwijaya pilots “repeatedly reported technical” problems with the autothrottle.
In response, “technicians attempted to rectify the problem by cleaning switches and connectors.”
Furthermore, he 737 involved in the accident was purportedly grounded for nearly a year due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, it was issued a certificate of airworthiness in December 2020.
Mark Lindquist of the Hermann Law Group, which is representing the victims’ families, said Boeing should be held accountable for not offering better support to airlines.
“This is a major public safety issue,” Lindquist said. “As the manufacturer of the plane, Boeing has an ongoing duty to warn airlines and instruct airlines to help them keep the planes safe.”
“In this instance,” he added, “you have at least two problems where Boeing failed to give adequate warning and instructions. Number one, the parking of the planes during the pandemic, and number two, the repeated problems with the autothrottle.”
Attorneys representing 16 families of crash victims compiled a list of previous incidents involving older-model 737s’ throttle systems. In their lawsuit, family members say the aircraft’s troubled history should have led to the autothrottle system being redesigned.
“Specifically, the automatic throttle can stick and thereby cause significant differences in power between engines, resulting in a loss of control of the aircraft,” the lawsuit states. “Boeing did not provide adequate warnings and instructions about how to respond to a failure in the automatic throttle.”
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.
Attorney Lara Hermann of the Hermann Law Group said her clients believe the United States judicial system offers the best opportunity for justice.
“We’re seeking justice in the United States for Indonesian citizens, as our judicial system works for everyone,” Hermann said in a statement.
Fox Business notes that the auto-throttle system is not related to the automated flight control mechanism which contributed to an October 2018 Lion Air Crash, nor the Ethiopian crash several months later; both incidents involved the Boeing 737 MAX 8.