Southwest Airlines pilots sue Boeing for misleading them about 737 MAX airworthiness

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Texas-based Southwest Airlines pilots announced Monday that they have filed a lawsuit against Boeing, accusing the planemaker of “deliberately misleading” them about the 737 MAX, a model now grounded after two deadly crashes.

We have to be able to trust Boeing to truthfully disclose the information we need to safely operate our aircraft. In the case of the 737 MAX, that absolutely did not happen,” said Captain Jonathan Weaks, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA).

The complaint, filed in the District Court of Dallas County (Texas), alleges that Boeing “abandoned sound design and engineering practices, withheld safety critical information from regulators and deliberately misled its customers, pilots and the public about the true scope of design changes to the 737 MAX.”

346 people were killed in two crashes: a Lion Air jet in Indonesia in October 2018 and an Ethiopian Airlines aircraft in Ethiopia in March 2019. In both cases, pilots experienced difficulties in controlling the aircraft after the activation of the anti-stall management system (MCAS), according to preliminary investigations.

The grounding of the 737 MAX in March has wiped out more than 30,000 Southwest Airlines flights, causing over $100 million in lost wages for pilots, SWAPA said.

Southwest Airlines is the largest operator of the 737 MAX with 34 jetliners in its fleet and 41 more on order this year. It does not expect to resume passenger transport before 2020.

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