Families of Lion Air crash victims ask why Boeing 737 MAX not grounded before deadly Ethiopian Airlines accident
- Since the tragedy in Ethiopia, deliveries of Boeing’s bestselling 737 MAX jets have been halted and the company’s shares have fallen nearly 13 per cent
- Aviation experts have noted eerie similarities between Sunday’s accident and the crash of the same model of plane in Indonesia in October
“I felt hurt when I heard that the jet involved in the Ethiopian air crash was the same [model],” said Sahadi. “It seems like the government brushed off our demands, they need to be firmer. The authority is too late to act, why didn’t they ground [these] jets after the Lion Air crash?”
Aryandi’s parents remain hopeful that their son’s remains will one day surface. When Andrian’s body was found, his family said they did not want to see his remains to make it easier for everyone to “let him go”, Sahadi said.
“We did not want to see his body parts, but we were told that they were mushy like paper pulp,” he said.
“What we’ve been asking is, how would Boeing take responsibility for this? We cannot let this many human beings turned into guinea pigs,” Sahadi said.
“So I’m asking, again, for authorities, to forever impound [these jets]. I’ve been wondering, after the Ethiopian crash, which [MAX 8] would crash next?”
Vini Wulandari, sister of one of the ill-fated Lion Air flight’s co-pilots, said that the Ethiopian crash confirmed the suspicions that she and many of the victims’ relatives had about the MAX 8 being a “defective product”.
“God truly exists, we’ve been talking from the start, since [the Lion Air crash], that we should never use Boeing 737 MAX 8 again, if not we will all be air crash victims,” said Wulandari, who has also filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Boeing. “The [Ethiopian] crash shows that 737 MAX 8 is a manufacturing fail from the beginning.”
“When I first heard about [the Ethiopian crash] I was sad because I am familiar with the sadness that the victims’ families must feel and I was also sad because the 737 MAX 8 should have been grounded after the Lion Air crash,” she said. “Maybe because it was only one accident, so a lot of people thought there was no need for immediate [action].”
Wulandari said she had developed a fear of flying after her brother’s death and hoped the tragedy would tame Boeing’s “ego”.
“They used to say that the 737 MAX 8 is a sophisticated aircraft, but what do you know? It crashed into the sea,” she said. “They should have provided the software fix after [the Lion Air] accident.”
Wulandari’s pilot brother, Harvino, left behind a 18-month-old baby and two young children aged 5 and 8. The middle child still hopes his father will return home, Wulandari said.
“I told him that his father has passed away but he doesn’t believe that because there’s no grave for his body yet,” she said.
“An aircraft will keep climbing during cruising after take-off, but in both cases the jet went erratic, it went up and down, up and down,” said Gerry Soejatman, a Jakarta-based aviation expert, citing available flight data. “The two crashes shared similar patterns, including an unreliable airspeed, then it’s rightly or wrongly normal for people to come to the conclusion that the two crashes are caused by the same thing. The similarities are worrying.”
Boeing grounded the entire global fleet of its 737 MAX aircraft on Thursday and is expected to issue a software fix in the coming weeks. Many countries around the world had already grounded the aircraft, including China and the US.
No fix, however, is likely to persuade the victims’ families to board the company’s jets any time soon.