Four Bay Area families are suing Boeing and Asiana
Airlines, saying both the airplane manufacturer and the carrier were responsible
for the crash of a jumbo jet at San Francisco International Airport last month
because of faulty pilot training and problems with the plane.
The crash of Asiana Flight 214 on July 6 turned the Boeing 777 into "a chamber of horrors for the unsuspecting passengers," said the suits, filed by attorney Frank Pitre on behalf of 12 passengers.
The plane, which took off from Shanghai and made a stopover in Seoul, lost its tail section when it hit a seawall short of a runway. The jet then spun off the runway and caught fire.
Three Chinese teenage girls were killed in the crash, including one who was run over by a San Francisco Fire Department rig. About 180 passengers and crew members were injured.
The suits claim negligence and breach of warranty, and seek unspecified damages.
Boeing and Asiana have declined to comment on pending litigation, saying only that they are cooperating with an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board that will determine the cause of the crash.
Federal investigators say the plane was flying too slowly and that its trajectory was too low when it clipped the seawall. The pilot was making his first landing of a Boeing 777 at SFO.
The suits, filed this week in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, said the "horrific, unforgettable nightmare" was the result of a number of factors, including Boeing's design of a plane with an allegedly faulty auto-throttle system and ineffective low-speed warnings for pilots.
The suits also say passengers in the economy section of the aircraft had lap belts, compared with shoulder harnesses for passengers in business and first class. The passengers with only lap belts were more likely to be injured, the suits say.
During the landing process, the pilot flying the plane set the airspeed for 157 mph and assumed that the auto-throttle control system was maintaining the plane's speed. But because of Boeing's design of "inadequate and/or defective auto-throttle control systems, auto-pilot control systems and/or low airspeed warning systems in the aircraft, the pilots were not warned of the malfunction" until it was too late, the suits say.
Boeing failed to adequately train pilots to fly the 777 and "knew or should have known about the unfitness of Asiana pilots to flying the Boeing aircraft," the suits say.
Although Boeing has touted the sophisticated technology on the 777, the airplane type has been involved in several previous accidents, including a crash and fire, the complaints say.
Asiana failed to properly train its pilots "to assure they had the required skill and experience to safely land their aircraft at all airports in which they did business," the suits say.
Henry K. Lee is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @henryklee
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