Families of victims in the Indonesian Lion Air disaster may have been pressured to sign a no-suit deal against Lion Air and Boeing, according to reports by The New York Times.
Reports indicate that shortly after the crash, families of the victims were offered 1.3 billion rupiahs ($129,635 AUD) as compensation by the airline, under the proviso that victims would not pursue legal action against Lion Air.
This comes after last year’s news that families of passengers’ on-board the Lion Air flight were pursuing legal action against Boeing over the aircraft’s anti-stall or ‘angle of attack’ sensor, which has been the focal point for investigators trying to pinpoint the cause of the crash.
The amount, The Times alleges, is roughly the minimum victims are entitled to receive under Indonesian law, while the conditions imposed by Lion Air were complicated and shocking, with some legal experts questioning their legality.
By agreeing to the terms, families were also barred from pursuing Lion Air’s financial backers and insurers, as well as Boeing, which manufactured the nearly brand-new 737 Max 8 plane.
The signers also promised not to disclose the terms of the agreement itself, a copy reviewed by The Times shows.
“The heirs of the victims have no obligation or duty to sign any requirements, including release and discharge,” said Ahmad Sudiro, the dean of the law faculty at Tarumanagara University in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital.
“It could be that the company is trying to be tricky. This signing has no jurisdictional basis but this is what the company is trying to force the families to do.”
It was also reported the document that relatives signed included an eight-page list of hundreds of other companies, many subcontractors for Boeing, which also could not be sued if relatives were to claim the money.
The Times has also revealed shocking evidence that both the Lion Air Flight 610 in Indonesia and Ethiopian Airlines aircrafts lacked two notable safety features, sold as optional extras by Boeing.
It was also recently revealed by authorities that black box data from both the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines disasters shared similarities.
These optional features, The Times report, are commonplace – often lucrative – and can include either aesthetic or functional add-ons, notwithstanding communication, navigation or safety systems, which are more fundamental to the plane’s operations.
It is alleged that many low-cost carriers, including Lion Air, do not opt to buy these extra safety features – while regulators do not require them.
Following the two tragic crashes, Boeing will make one of those safety features standard as part of a fix to the MAX 8 to get the aircraft in the air again.