A class-action lawsuit by an estimated 400 pilots against Boeing reportedly accused the US aviation giant of covering up the faulty sensor issue and keeping pilots in the dark about the feature in the pursuit of quick returns.
The lawsuit will be heard by a Chicago court in October, according to reports by multiple news platforms.
The legal action was started by a pilot, identified only as ‘Pilot X’ in court documents, which were seen by the Australian Broadcasting Company.
He was joined by over 400 fellow pilots, trained to fly the fourth-generation narrow-body 737 MAX aircraft. They accuse the Chicago-based aviation corporation of hushing known concerns about the glitch-ridden equipment installed on the jets.
The lawsuit, which demands compensation for lost wages and mental suffering that the pilots endured due to the grounding, alleges that the aviation giant should have known that by sweeping the issue under the rug, it set the stage for exactly that outcome.
The complaint says that Boeing “engaged in an unprecedented cover-up of the known design flaws of the MAX, which predictably resulted in the crashes of two MAX aircraft and subsequent grounding of all MAX aircraft worldwide”.
Pilots “suffer and continue to suffer significant lost wages, among other economic and non-economic damages”, it claimed.
In addition, the pilots accuse Boeing of providing little instruction on how to handle the anti-stalling feature, which is only briefly mentioned in the flight manuals. They allege that such casual approach to familiarizing pilots with new software was deliberate – and was meant to save the cost of introducing new simulator-based training so that pilots would take up “revenue-generating routes as quickly as possible”.
The plaintiffs say that their ultimate goal is to prevent tragedies such as the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes, which claimed 346 lives, from happening in the future by deterring “Boeing and other airplane manufacturers from placing corporate profits ahead of the lives of the pilots, crews, and general public they service”.