A group of passengers who survived the crash of Asiana Airlines flight 214 in San Francisco July 6 are suing the airline and Boeing, which made the 777 aircraft, alleging that the lap-only seat restraints in economy class made the crash and their injuries much worse than they should have been.
Three complaints, filed in California, draw comparisons between the seat restraints provided in the economy cabin with the full lap and shoulder restraints available to first-class passengers. Because economy class offered lap belts only, injuries in that part of the plane were much worse, the complaints allege.
According to Law 360, the complaints cite the comments by a surgeon who treated a number of injured Asiana passengers. The surgeon said that one passenger slammed his head into the seat in front of him, giving him an unstable fracture of the cervical spine. The surgeon explained that the injury could have been prevented with a shoulder strap.
The complaints also cite a passenger seated in business class who claimed that the force of the impact would have caused him to “hit the ceiling” if it weren’t for his shoulder restraint.
“Passengers not equipped with multipoint harnesses suffered injuries, including but not limited to abdominal, spinal, and head injuries, when they were violently jerked in their seats from the impact,” the complaints said. “Had passengers in economy class safely been restrained by lap and shoulder harnesses, many injuries would have been prevented and/or mitigated.”
The lawsuits also allege the Boeing 777 contained other defects that exacerbated the crash, such as a faulty auto-throttle control system and ineffective low-speed warnings.
Additionally, the lawsuits also accuse Asiana and Boeing of providing inadequate training to the pilots of the 777, who approached the runway at San Francisco International (SFO) at “a perilously low altitude flight-path” and “low airspeed approach.”
After the crash occurred, the pilots failed to evacuate the airplane in a timely manner, the complaints allege, citing NTSB investigators who reviewed the crash and said they “don’t know what the pilots were thinking” by not ordering an immediate evacuation of the airplane after the crash. Pilots reportedly told the flight crew not to evacuate the plane until one flight attendant noticed that the plane was on fire.
Flames consumed much of the wrecked plane shortly after passengers evacuated the fuselage.
More than 180 of Asiana’s 209 passengers and crew aboard flight 214 from Incheon International Airport in South Korea were injured in the crash. Three teenagers, all school girls from China, were killed.