Brisbane, Australia-based International Aerospace Law & Policy Group and Chicago-based law firm PMJ PLLC on Saturday filed a class action lawsuit against the Boeing Company on behalf of more than 400 pilots from a major international airline claiming compensatory damages from the grounding of the 737 Max fleet. The pilots fly for an airline that also employs a 737 Max pilot known only as Pilot X, who wishes to remain unidentified for fear of reprisal. Pilot X filed a lawsuit individually late last month, claiming present and future losses stemming from the “psychological impact” of the two crashes that ultimately led to the aircraft's grounding.
A statement from IALPG said the claimants haven’t yet tallied a figure for damages, but the law firm estimates losses in the millions of dollars. “Since pilot income and career certainty have been adversely affected by Boeing’s focus on profits over safety the lawsuit is being filed now, at the time of the 53rd International Paris Air Show, to send a message to Boeing that its desire for aircraft sales must never again impact on aviation safety,” said the statement.
“When regulators worldwide faced doubts about the safety of Boeing’s 737 Max design, they acted decisively to ground the aircraft,” noted IALPG principal and legal practice director Joseph Wheeler. “Boeing’s failures effectively grounded a legion of pilots too, pilots who were not aware that the equipment they had to fly was defective and dangerously designed. Many pilots worldwide have either been laid off, made to relocate bases, or at least suffered significant diminishment to flight opportunities and pay. We applaud the courage of Pilot X to hold Boeing responsible for the losses these pilots face.”
Pilot X has filed a separate administrative claim to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. According to PMJ managing partner Patrick Jones, Pilot X plans to file a lawsuit against the U.S. government for negligence on the part of the FAA if his counsel deems the FAA’s response inadequate. “The allegations reflect the widely held view that Boeing put its corporate profits ahead of aviation safety as well as the safety of those in the aviation world who put their trust in Boeing most: pilots and their passengers,” said Jones. “Pilots trusted Boeing to sell a safe aircraft that they could manage in any emergency scenario, but that trust was clearly abused.”