More families of victims of the Lion Air crash in Indonesia are suing Boeing after its chief executive apologised and said a software update for the MAX 8 jet would prevent further disasters.
Family members and lawyers said on Monday that CEO Dennis Muilenburg’s comment last week, related to an automated flight system, was an admission that helps their cases.
The anti-stall system is suspected as a cause of the Lion Air crash in October and an Ethiopian Airlines crash in March that also involved a MAX 8 jet. The two crashes killed a combined total of 346 people.
At a news conference organised by Jakarta law firm Kailimang and Ponto, families of 11 Lion Air victims said they are joining dozens of other Indonesian families in filing lawsuits against Boeing.
“Boeing’s CEO explicitly apologised to 346 passenger families,” said Merdian Agustin, whose husband died in the crash. “We hope this is good momentum to have compensation rights.”
Agustin, a mother of three, said that she and dozens of other families have not received 1.2 billion rupiah ($85,000) compensation they are entitled to in Indonesia because they refused to sign a “release and discharge” document that extinguishes their right to sue Lion Air, Boeing or their subsidiaries.
“We refused to sign such a document containing statements that are treating our loved ones like lost baggage,” said Agustin. “It’s ridiculous and hurts us.”
Boeing acknowledged that the sensor malfunctioned and Muilenburg said last week that a new software update would prevent future incidents.
“It’s our responsibility to eliminate this risk,” Muilenburg said in a video statement. “We own it, and we know how to do it.”
Lawyer Michael Indrajana said that since the crash, families in Indonesia have faced a complicated and painful process against Boeing and Lion Air in their battle to get compensation.
He said the statement by Boeing’s CEO shows the airline is now acknowledging responsibility.
“No amount of money can bring their loved ones back,” he said. “We want to fight for the orphans, so they have the opportunity to get a better future.”
Boeing said last week that it will cut production of its troubled 737 MAX airliner this month, underscoring the growing financial risk it faces the longer that its best-selling plane remains grounded after the two crashes.