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737 Max

Boeing Ordered to Produce Crash Documents from 737 MAX Incidents

Boeing Ordered to Produce Crash Documents from 737 MAX Incidents
Joe Cortez

After making arguments that documents related to the crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 should be withheld, a Texas judge ruled they should be produced as part of a lawsuit against the company. An order filed on Jan. 27, 2021 orders Boeing to produce the requested documents to the plaintiffs within 21 days.

The Boeing Company will be compelled to produce internal documents related to the 737 MAX crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, after a failed argument that they should remain sealed based on international aviation law. In a 49-page order filed in the United States Court for the Eastern District of Texas, judge Amos L. Mazzant ordered the Chicago-based aerospace giant to provide documents to the plaintiffs.

Lawsuit Focuses on Theory Boeing and Southwest Airlines Covered Up 737 MAX Fatal Flaws

The original lawsuit was filed in July 2019 by a group of passengers who purchased tickets for flights aboard 737 MAX aircraft operated by American Airlines and Southwest Airlines. The suit names Boeing and Southwest as defendants; American is not legally involved in the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs argue that due to a “special relationship” between the two companies, Southwest received preferential pricing and treatment on their all-737 fleet, as well as early access to their newest aircraft. In turn, the suit claims the Dallas-based made preferential orders to Boeing, and spent millions of dollars on grounding non-737 aircraft acquired in their merger with AirTran. Attorneys say the “collusive relationship” allegedly lead to the two conspiring to cover up flaws with the 737 MAX-8.

“Boeing rushed a terribly defective new 737 model — the 737 MAX 8 — to market, and people died,” the original complaint reads. “Southwest worked with Boeing to cover up the defect in this model, and to assure the public that the 737 MAX 8 was safe (it was not), and later that it was fixed (it was not). More people died. But Southwest still did not change its tune on the 737 MAX 8. It could not risk its special relationship with Boeing—or those 45 straight years of profits.”

As part of the lawsuit, the plaintiffs sought specific documents from Boeing regarding the two fatal accidents, which led to the troubled airframe getting grounded worldwide. Attorneys for Boeing argued the documents were privileged under several terms, including the Chicago Convention and Annex 13 of the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards.

However, Mazzant disagreed with Boeing’s application of the two standards. In an analysis of international and treaty law, the judge called the Annex 13 argument a “non-self-executing” treaty, which does not preclude the aircraft manufacturer from releasing documents.

“In spite of this consensus, Boeing puzzlingly insists the dynamics of Annex 13 should influence the Court’s analysis because these standards and recommended practices ‘are the way that international investigations are conducted’,” Mazzant writes in his decision. “The argument Boeing offers could persuade Congress or the President to give effect to the provisions of Annex 13 in some form or fashion—but as of now, Annex 13’s standards and recommended practices are nothing more than ‘international law commitments’ and do not ‘function as binding federal law.’”

The order requires Boeing to turn over previously-withheld documents to the plaintiffs within 21 days of its signing. Boeing has not publicly commented on the lawsuit, and, as of press time, has not yet filed any arguments to block the release. The case continues as 4:19-cv-00507-ALM: Damonie, et. al., vs The Boeing Company and Southwest Airlines Co.

Lawsuit Second Legal Hit to Boeing in 2021

The order is the second major hit to Boeing to be legally handed down through the judicial system. Earlier in January 2021, Boeing agreed to a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice over the 737 MAX, including a total financial penalty over $2.5 billion. The decision could potentially give merit to another case, where an advocacy group is seeking the release of documents about the next-generation aircraft.

View Comments (3)

3 Comments

  1. Dublin_rfk

    January 29, 2021 at 7:06 pm

    The 737 Max will be out of production before Boeing hands over those sealed documents.

  2. paj9zo

    February 3, 2021 at 4:50 am

    Plus the troubles with the 787. Plus the troubles with the 777X, which is now delayed until 2023. Boing (my spelling) is becoming the American Motors of the skies. I’ll fly Airbus, thank you.

  3. Cathay Dragon 666

    February 20, 2021 at 8:25 am

    I hate to say this and excuse the financial people in this forum. But how many great companies have been driven to the ground by CEOs with “finance” backgrounds that can “minimize expenses, maximizes profits, more investor dividends” at the expense of the product it self? The previous CEO actually mocked Boeing that “I had to wrestle the company away from engineers”, bet his proud of himself now.

    All organizations started out by passionate, visionaries that wanted to make products or services that enhances society and improves the world, until “finance” guys took over and then all the organization cares about is purely maximizing profits for the upper management and investors.

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