SEATTLE – A lawsuit filed in Seattle against Boeing alleges that a malfunctioning autothrottle system on an older 737 jet led to the crash of the Sriwijaya Air plane into the Java Sea in Indonesia last January, killing all 62 people on board.
The Seattle Times reported that the lawsuit, filed Thursday in King County Superior Court on behalf of 16 families of crash victims, cited previous incidents involving malfunctions of the 737 autothrottle system, arguing the history suggests the system should have been redesigned.
Boeing in a statement extended sympathy to the families and loved ones of people who died in the Jan. 9 crash but added that “it would be inappropriate to comment while our technical experts continue to assist with the investigation, or on any pending litigation.”
This 737 that crashed had been parked for nine months last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic air travel downturn. Indonesian aviation regulators issued a new certificate of airworthiness for the jet in December that allowed it to fly again.
According to the preliminary report into the crash of Flight SJ182 by the Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee, maintenance logs showed that pilots repeatedly reported issues with the autothrottle in the days before the fatal flight and that technicians tried to fix the problem by cleaning switches and connectors.
The plane nosedived into the ocean near the Thousand Island chain in heavy rain shortly after it took off from Jakarta.
Sriwijaya Air had had only minor safety incidents in the past, though a farmer was killed in 2008 when a plane went off the runway while landing due to a hydraulic issue.