CHICAGO, Ill.–Eighty-three passengers of Asiana flight 214 have joined a lawsuit being prepared against Boeing Co. for injuries they received when the airplane crash-landed on a San Francisco runway July 6. A court filing by the plaintiffs’ firm alleges that mechanical defects within the aircraft might have caused the crash and resulting injuries. Three people were killed and 182 were injured when the plane touched down at San Francisco International Airport after an overnight flight from Seoul, South Korea.
Court papers filed in Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago, Boeing’s home city, seek to preserve evidence that may be critical to understanding the causes of the crash and the plaintiffs’ claims. In addition to a potentially faulty auto throttle, which the pilots of the plane said malfunctioned, the law firm representing the plaintiffs alleges that two of the airplane’s eight emergency slides opened inside the cabin, trapping some people on board underneath.
The plaintiffs’ lawyers have asked the judge to order Boeing to identify the company that made the Boeing 777’s auto throttle and emergency evacuation slides. They also seek information about the systems that indicate the airplane’s slope and ground sensors.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) continue to investigate the cause of the crash. Officials know that the airplane was making its descent to the runway on an improper glide path and at a speed significantly below the target landing speed of 137 knots.
NTSB investigators determined that the pilots realized approach was unstable, but they attempted to pull out of it for a “go around” too late for the plane to recover. The plane clipped the sea wall on the runway’s edge, tearing off the tail section and sending the plane spinning down the runway. A fire started to consume the airplane as it came to rest on the runway.
Investigators are trying to understand why the pilots failed to act until they were less than 2 seconds from impact. The pilots have said that they were relying on autopilot systems to control their landing, in which case their faulty reaction to a mechanical defect would be the likely cause of the crash. NTSB investigators have found that the auto throttle had been “armed” or set for activation, but they are still trying to determine whether it had actually been activated.
The airplane was carrying 307 passengers and crew members. Lawyers representing the plaintiffs against Boeing said that they will also take action against Korea-based Asiana and manufacturers of the Boeing’s 777 components.