The family of a British UN worker who died in the Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max crash has started legal action against Boeing.
Joanna Toole was one of seven British passengers, who died in the crash of flight ET302 near Addis Ababa on 10 March shortly after takeoff from the Ethiopian capital.
She had been working for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation at the time of her death and had been travelling to the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya.
The 737 Max has been grounded worldwide since March as Boeing continues to work on a software fix to solve the problem believed to have caused both the Ethiopian Airlines crash and a similar fatal accident of a Lion Air 737 Max in October 2018.
The Toole family, which is being represented by law firm Irwin Mitchell, has now started legal proceedings in Chicago against both Boeing and Rosemount Aerospace, which manufactured the aircraft’s angle of attack sensors.
Clive Garner, partner and head of the aviation law team at Irwin Mitchell, said: “While the official accident investigation continues, the exact cause or causes of the Ethiopian Airlines disaster remains unknown.
“Despite this, sufficient evidence is now available to enable proceedings to be commenced against both Boeing and Rosemount Aerospace.
“The proceedings involve allegations of a catalogue of serious failures by Boeing. The allegations include criticism of Boeing’s decision to fit new, larger engines to the existing 737 airframe.
“These engines altered the aircraft’s handling characteristics and, in particular, caused the nose of the aircraft to pitch upwards in the period following take off, increasing the risk of an engine stall.
“To reduce this risk Boeing introduced a new software system called MCAS which automatically pitched the nose of the aircraft downwards when the angle of attack sensors fitted to the aircraft signalled that the angle of the aircraft was too steep.
“However, it is also alleged that the MCAS software was faulty and it is now being re-designed.”
“Further, pilots of the new Max 8 aircraft were not made sufficiently aware of the operation of the new software and were not adequately trained to deal with a situation like the one that arose on flight ET302.”
In Boeing’s latest statement on the 737 Max, the manufacturer said the safety of its aircraft was its “highest priority”.
“During the FAA’s review of the 737 Max software update and recent simulator sessions, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) identified an additional requirement that it has asked the company to address through the software changes that the company has been developing for the past eight months,” said Boeing.