There’s a new theory around what brought down the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing MAX aircraft in March. Picture: Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
There’s a new theory around what brought down the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing MAX aircraft in March. Picture: Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

French widow sues Boeing for $400 million

Nadege Dubois-Seex is angry. She is convinced the death of her husband, Jonathan Seex, was totally avoidable - and that of every other person flying on a faulty Boeing aircraft.

Especially because the same fault in the same type of aircraft had caused another tragic crash in October last year - that of Indonesia's Lion Air.

So she's launched a lawsuit against the US aircraft manufacturer to prove her point.

"It is a tragedy which, by definition, could have been avoided, because it had already happened five months before. How could they stay deaf to this warning?" Mrs Dubois-Seex told reporters in Paris today.

Her husband was a citizen of Sweden and Kenya. He is survived by his wife, and three children aged between 7 and 10.

 

FAULT BY DESIGN

The lawsuit says Boeing's design of the 737 Max was faulty and the company was able to rush the plane into production because it faced little oversight from regulators.

The lawsuit says the plane could crash if a single part malfunctioned, that Boeing concealed problems and refused to ground the plane on its own. Lawyers say Boeing did the same thing after crashes of earlier 737s in the 1990s.

EXPLORE MORE: Confused AI 'fought' Boeing Max8 pilots

"The life of my husband was taken knowingly, and even willingly," an upset Mrs Dubois-Seex said. "Boeing acted with cynicism. My husband was the collateral damage of a system, of a business strategy."

A total of 346 people are dead because of a suspected flaw in the Max8's semi-autonomous flight control software which pushes the aircraft's nose down if it senses it is flying too slow.

In both accidents, the sensor is believed to have produced faulty speed readings - causing the artificial intelligence to take over control of the aircraft from the pilots.

 

PRICE OF LIFE

Former Transportation Department Inspector General Mary Schiavo filed the lawsuit last week in federal district court in South Carolina on behalf of Mrs Dubois-Seex. Boeing is also being sued over the October crash of Lion Air Flight 610 in Indonesia.

Boeing declined to comment on specifics of the lawsuit.

But, at the weekend, Boeing admitted it had corrected faults in the simulator software used to train 737 Max pilots. But it revealed no further details on what the fault was, or when it was discovered.

Mrs Dubois-Seex's lawyer said was part of the problem.

"Boeing was aware of problems with the plane's angle of attack, with the MCAS software, and we recently learned they were even aware of problems with the training software," Nomaan Husain told reporters.

"We asked the jury, after considering all of the evidence, after considering Boeing's reckless and wilful action in which it consciously disregarded the safety of its passengers, to award a minimum in the form of a punishment to Boeing of $US276 ($A400) million."

That figure had been arrived at by dividing Boing's 2018 profit of $US101 billion by the total number of dead.

"Is one day's worth of gross receipts by Boeing severe enough to deter future behaviour? Or is it one week's worth of wages, or one month, or one year? That's going to be for the jury to decide," he said.



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