U.S. DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg met today (Wednesday, March 10) with the family of Samya Rose Stumo who died in the Boeing 737 MAX 8 crash in Ethiopia. This was Secretary Buttigieg’s first in-person meeting since his confirmation. Today marks the two-year anniversary since the plane went down killing all 157 onboard.
For nearly an hour, the Stumo family told Buttigieg and a staff person at a socially distanced meeting that the MAX aircraft still is unsafe as verified by engineers inside the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as well as by Boeing engineers. It still has several critical systems with single points of failure and other systems that don’t comply with modern safety rules.
They explained to Buttigieg that FAA engineers have revealed that FAA managers have exerted undue influence in favour of industry.
Specifically, Michael Stumo (father of Samya) Nadia Milleron (her mother) and Tor Stumo (her brother), told Buttigieg that at least four FAA managers must be replaced: FAA Administrator Steve Dickson, FAA Aircraft Certification Service Executive Director Earl Lawrence, FAA Policy & Innovation Division Director of Aircraft Certification Service Michael Romanowski, and FAA Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety Ali Bahrami. The FAA is the U.S. agency that certifies all aircraft for flying.
“Secretary Buttigieg was very receptive and gave us more time than promised,” Michael Stumo said following the meeting. “He provided us with answers to questions about the plane itself and what the FAA knew between the crashes. He was very concerned about the assertions that management was an impediment to safety. Secretary Buttigieg said he was dedicated to getting us answers.”
“We are very hopeful that he sees that in order to make his term as DOT Secretary successful, it is in his interests to substantially improve the FAA and its management and culture,” Stumo said. “It was a very fruitful and candid conversation. We hope he is taking the information regarding the latent defects in the plane seriously as well as the management failures at the FAA so that there is no third crash. Only a new leadership can restore trust in the FAA.”
Earlier in the day, Nadia Milleron, and her son stood in front of Boeing’s offices near the Pentagon, 929 Long Bridge Dr., Arlington, Va., to remind executives of their accountability in the deaths of 346 people. They held signs reading, “Profits Over Passengers.”
Passengers on the plane were from 35 countries. Chris and Clariss Moore of Toronto, Canada, lost their 24-year-old daughter Danielle on the plane. They commemorated the day by creating a greater public awareness of the tragedy, standing in front of the U.S. Consulate in Toronto at 360 University Ave. at 10 a.m. EST. They held signs reading, “346 Dead, No One Held Accountable.” Earlier in the month, the Moores met with Canadian Transport officials to discuss the continuing problems surrounding the MAX that has been ungrounded in Canada. A petition has been created to ban the unsafe Boeing 737 MAX plane in Canada.
Zipporah Kuria of the UK who lost her father in the crash said today, “My dad’s absence will never not hurt. It’s hard to exist in a world where he doesn’t. Life just doesn’t mean what it used to, but we are trying to give dad a living legacy to give his life meaning. The earth keeps orbiting and for Boeing it’s business as usual, but for my family and 156 other families, everything has stood still – in grief, hopelessness and disappointment. Knowing the 737 Boeing MAX keeps flying feels like we’ve paid the highest price for a bill that wasn’t ours. I wonder did Boeing or the FAA even take a moment to recognize and reflect on the lives that didn’t need to be lost at their peril and on their watch, or was it just another day on the calendar?”
Relatives of families of the MAX crash in Ethiopia are calling for Boeing’s Chief Executive Dave Calhoun, his predecessor Dennis Muilenburg and other current and former employees to be deposed under the consolidated lawsuits that have been filed in federal district court in Chicago. Robert A. Clifford, founder and senior partner of Clifford Law Offices and lead counsel of the litigation representing 72 families, reports that a trial date is soon to be set for 2022 in the matter before U.S. District Court Judge Jorge Alonso in Chicago. In the meantime, discovery continues with millions of pages of documents being reviewed and depositions of many parties being taken, including top Boeing executives.
Families have been insisting on a full recertification, examining all systems of the latest 737 that has not been recertified for more than 50 years and that has undergone numerous changes including placing the newly sized engines further forward on the wings. Internal U.S. FAA documents reportedly show that other Max8 systems fail to comply with modern safety standards.
“The families’ fight for information is really on behalf of the public in an effort to make the flying safer for everyone because it is too late for their loved ones,” Clifford said. “This is one of the most selfless acts I have ever seen in my career as an aviation attorney. They are taking their grief and trying to do something constructive so that their loved ones’ deaths will not be in vain. Although the route they choose is very public, they have put their private suffering aside to try to ensure that this does not happen to anyone else.”
The first Boeing Max8 plane crashed into the Java Sea about nine minutes after taking off from Indonesia on Oct. 29, 2018, killing all 189 on board. The plane was not grounded worldwide until 157 more lives were lost when a second 737 Max8 crashed about six minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, headed for Kenya.