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Boeing 737 Max aircraft on which Penwortham man died in Ethopian Airlines crash may be allowed to fly again

Posted on - 23rd November, 2020 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Penwortham, Preston City Centre, Preston News, South Ribble News
Sam Pegram's image was displayed on the Deepdale big screens Pic: Kate Rosindale/Blog Preston
Sam Pegram’s image was displayed on the Deepdale big screens Pic: Kate Rosindale/Blog Preston

Lawyers representing British families whose loved ones were killed in a Boeing 737 Max crash have spoken of their ‘significant concerns’ after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) paved the way for the aircraft to fly again in the US .

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A total of 346 passengers and crew were killed when two Boeing 737 Max aircraft operated by Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashed into the Java Sea and near Addis Ababa respectively.

They included Sam Pegram, 25 from Penwortham who was working as an aid-worker in Africa.

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Sam’s family, as well as a number of other relatives of those who lost their lives on-board Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 have asked Irwin Mitchell’s specialist Aviation Law team to represent them.

Working with colleagues in the US, the team is continuing with court proceedings against Boeing in Illinois, USA.

The families of those killed filed objections with the US Department of Transportation in relation to the potential re-certification, arguing the aircraft should not return to the skies before a number of fundamental concerns were addressed.

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The families and their lawyers maintain that the aircraft is ‘aerodynamically unstable and does not comply with modern aircraft certification standards’ and remain concerned that the data supporting the assertion that the Max 8 is now safe to fly has not been released, leaving ‘unanswered questions’.

Sam Pegram died while in Africa helping refugees Pic: Blog Preston/Pegram family
Sam Pegram died while in Africa helping refugees Pic: Blog Preston/Pegram family

Clive Garner, one of the aviation law specialists at Irwin Mitchell representing the families involved, said: “The families we represent have been living with the loss of their loved ones in the most tragic of circumstances.

“All of the passengers and crew who lost their lives did so due to the design and introduction of an aircraft which was unfit to fly. Despite the grounding and the FAA’s announcement today very significant concerns remain about the FAA’s decision to allow the Boeing Max to fly again in the US.

“The FAA requires a number of steps to be undertaken, including retro-fitting adaptations to the aircraft and additional pilot training before the aircraft will be allowed to fly in the US again. It is highly likely that these steps will improve the aircraft’s safety, but we, our clients and a number of independent experts do not consider that these steps are adequate.

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“The root of the problem is that the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft will remain aerodynamically unstable. It will still have a tendency for the nose to pitch during certain manoeuvres and in turn this could still lead to an increased risk of its engines stalling.

“Along with a number of specific requests, including the FAA’s disclosure of key data to the families and their legal representatives, we and our clients have called for a number of further important steps to be taken including the commissioning of a new and fully independent review body to assess the safety of the 737 MAX before any decision is made to return it to service.

“It is deeply disappointing that the carefully considered and wholly reasonable requests of our clients have not been acted upon by the US authorities. We hope that EASA, the European Union Air Safety Agency will take a different and more considered approach when they finally decide about whether the aircraft is safe to return to service in Europe.”

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Enquiries into Boeing and the FAA’s role in the initial certification of the 737 MAX continue, while  a scathing report by the US House of Representatives’ Transportation and Infrastructure Committee found that the two crashes were due in part to Boeing’s unwillingness to share key technical information. The report added that there was a “culture of concealment” at Boeing. However, it also found that the regulatory system was “fundamentally flawed”.

The report concluded that Boeing “failed in its design and development of the MAX” and America’s Federal Aviation Authority “failed in its oversight of Boeing and its certification of the aircraft”.

Garner concluded: “The families who we represent want to be certain that the full circumstances surrounding these crashes are brought to light and fully addressed, that vital lessons are learned and that those at fault are held fully to account. They feel incredibly strongly that anything less puts other passengers at needless risk. We will continue to support them with the ongoing litigation in the US and in their campaign to get to the truth.”

Sam’s parents have spoken at length to the BBC in a special online feature about the Ethopian Airlines crash.

Read more: Latest news and updates from Blog Preston

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