Plane crash victims died painlessly says Boeing in bid to dodge family payouts

Passengers killed in horror plane crashes 'wouldn’t have felt any pain because their death was so quick', claims an aircraft manufacturer as it aims to minimise payouts.

Boeing is currently locked in a legal case following the doomed 2019 Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, one of two 737 MAX crashes, with the other being the Lion Air Flight 610 that dropped from the sky in Indonesia in 2018.

Lawyers acting for families of the 157 killed in Ethiopian disaster say the passengers endured a “terrifying six-minute rollercoaster” before the plane’s high-speed fatal nose dive.

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But Boeing’s legal team claim that the crash victims would have died “instantaneously” when the Ethiopian Airlines jet slammed into farmland near Tulu Fara village in Ethiopia.

The Wall Street Journal reports Boeing attorneys cited an expert who said that "the 737 MAX victims died painlessly because the airplane crashed into the ground so fast that their brains didn’t have time to process pain signals from their nervous systems.”

Flight 302 from Addis Ababa flew for six minutes after taking off on its way to Kenyan capital Nairobi, with the plane’s crew experiencing severe problems with the airline’s fly-by-wire systems.

While Boeing publicly expressed sympathy to the relatives of the Ethiopian Airlines crash and the earlier Lion Airlines tragedy, the company maintained that there were no problems with the aircraft and attempted to shift the blame for the crashes – which killed a total of 346 people – onto the pilots.

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After crash investigators identified a software fault as being the root cause of both crashes, the Boeing 737 MAX passenger airliner was grounded worldwide between March 2019 and December 2020 – resulting in a massive financial loss for the company.

The company has already paid out sizeable sums in damages relating to victims’ families’ financial loss and emotional distress, but Beoing’s lawyers dispute whether the plane maker should also have to pay for the victims’ suffering.

The aircraft ploughed into the ground at around 700mph, creating a crater some 90 feet wide and 120 feet long and spreading debris, including body parts and passengers’ personal belongings, over a wide area.

Now Boeing is arguing that lawyers for the victims shouldn’t be allowed to speculate about how much they might have suffered, because extant might influence a jury into approving a larger damages payout.

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Boeing’s legal team said: “Jurors would inevitably sympathise with testimony about the passengers’ alleged fear of impending death and imagine themselves in the passengers’ shoes.”

Lawyers acting for the victims’ families have countered: “Passengers undeniably suffered horrific emotional distress, pain and suffering, and physical impact/injury while they endured extreme G-forces, braced for impact, knew the airplane was malfunctioning, and ultimately plummeted nose-down to the ground at terrifying speed.”

The evidence – at least some of it – will be presented in court in June.

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