A shocking report by The New York Times says the pilots of the doomed Boeing 737 Max jets in Ethiopia and Indonesia lacked two notable safety features in their cockpits. The reason they didn’t have them was: Boeing charged extra for them. The Times reports that Boeing and other aircraft manufacturers have this practice of charging more to upgrade a standard plane. Top airlines must pay more money to have the airplanes they order equipped with so-called customized add-ons.
Safety Systems Could Have Saved Lives
So, as the pilots of the doomed Boeing jets in Ethiopia and Indonesia fought to control their planes, they lacked two notable safety features in their cockpits. The Oct. 29 Lion Air crash in Indonesia, where the plane crashed into the Java Sea shortly after taking off from Jakarta, left all 189 people on board dead. On March 10, an Ethiopian airline jetliner, also a Boeing 737 Max jet, crashed shortly after taking off from Addis Ababa killing all 157 on board.
Sometimes, the optional features that the airline manufacturers sell for a handsome price involve aesthetics or comfort such as premium seating, fancy lighting or bathrooms. However, other features involve communication, navigation or safety systems, which are more fundamental to the plane’s safe operation. A number of budget airlines such as Indonesia’s Lion Air have opted not to buy them. And, many regulators don’t mandate these features, making the airline’s decision not to purchase them much easier.
Now, after the two deadly crashes in which a total of 349 lives have been lost, Boeing has decided that it will make one of those safety features standard in a move to get the planes in the air again. Boeing’s “optional” safety features, in part, could have helped the pilots of the doomed airliners detect erroneous software readings, which is one of the issues investigators are looking into. Aviation experts say these features should be standard in all jets and airlines should not be charged extra for them.
“Safety is Not an Option”
As mass carriers, these airlines owe the highest duty of care to their passengers. They have an obligation to safely transport passengers. As a manufacturer, a company like Boeing has a duty to make products that are safe for consumers. While it is understandable that a company might charge extra for features that add to comfort or aesthetics, it is appalling that a basic feature that is critical to passengers’ safety would be considered an “option.”
Brian Chase, senior partner at the Newport Beach personal injury law firm of Bisnar Chase said he finds the practice of charging more for safety features outrageous, but not entirely shocking.
“It is very similar to what many auto manufacturers do – charging extra for certain features that are crucial to the safety of vehicle occupants. Safety is NOT an option.”
If you have lost a loved one in an aviation accident caused by manufacturer and/or airline negligence, you may be able to seek compensation for your tremendous losses. An experienced Aviation accident attorney who is adept at handling product liability cases can help you pursue your legal rights and explore your options.