Several passengers aboard a Lot Polish Airlines flight that crash landed in Warsaw, Poland, a year ago when its landing gear failed to deploy are suing Boeing and the company that inspected the airplane before it took off from New Jersey. The plaintiffs blame the incident on aircraft design flaws and poor safety inspections, and say the crash caused them to experience severe emotional trauma and physical injuries.
The lawsuit, filed this week in Chicago where Boeing is headquartered, asserts that design flaws in the 767-300 jet caused its hydraulic system to leak fluid. Because of a broken hydraulic hose, the airplane’s primary landing gear failed to deploy. The backup landing gear also failed, the lawsuit says, and making matters worse, the cockpit handbook provided by Boeing failed to give instructions on what to do in the event the alternate landing gear fails.
The lawsuit represents about 80 of the passengers from Lot Airlines flight LO 016. The airplane was carrying 220 passengers and 11 staff when it crash landed at Warsaw’s Chopin Airport on November 1, 2011.
A lawyer for the plaintiffs told the Associated Press that the passengers suing are still plagued by nightmares and other “classic post-traumatic stress disorder” symptoms after the experience, and some of them claim they will never be able to fly again.
“You’ve got the pilot telling them that things aren’t looking good, you had people texting their loved ones saying, ‘I don’t know if I’ll ever see you again, goodbye,’” the plaintiff’s lawyer told the AP. “There’s the terror that you are about to die.”
He said the people who dismiss such claims as frivolous can’t comprehend the sheer terror and intensity of the experience.
“This is a near-death experience,” he told the AP. “That you didn’t die is great. But you suffered damage from thinking you would die.”
The lawsuit also names New York-based Mach II Maintenance for failing to find the defects during the airplane’s last routine inspection.
The lawsuit follows a preliminary report from Poland’s State Commission for Investigation of Air Accidents released that month, which blamed the crash on the failure of the primary and secondary landing systems and inadequate guidance in Boeing’s cockpit handbook.