Family and Friends of Boeing Crash Victims to Hold Memorial Vigil

Families and friends of those who lost loved ones in the March 10 Boeing 737 Max8 crash in Ethiopia will hold a memorial vigil in front of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Tuesday September 10 at 12 noon. 

Samya Stumo

The group also has invited the staffs of Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration as well as U.S. House and Senate Aviation Subcommittees and their staffs to attend the hour-long vigil.

Supporters representing those who lost loved ones are coming from as far away as Rwanda, Belgium, Italy, Canada, Ethiopia and Kenya to honor those killed by carrying their pictures.  

They also want to make the public aware that the possible ungrounding of the Max8 that experienced two crashes within four months could result in future crashes. 

Nadia Milleron, mother of Samya Stumo, who died in the Boeing crash in Ethiopia, said “we do not want the memories of the victims to fade.” 

“We don’t want the aircraft manufacturing industry to again take control of the process for ungrounding the deadly Boeing 737 MAX 8 in a way that could lead to a third crash,” Milleron said.

Boeing has tried to fix the issue with a mere software change.  Families, though, are insisting on a full recertification, examining all systems of the latest 737 that has not been recertified for more than 50 years and that has undergone numerous changes including placing the engines above the wings instead of under the wings.  

Internal U.S. FAA documents reportedly show that other Max8 systems fail to comply with modern safety standards.

The memorial vigil will be held from noon to 1 p.m. at the Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C.  

Spokespersons for the group will be wearing red “Axe the Max” buttons on their lapels.

“These families continue to be unbelievably brave,” said Robert A. Clifford, founder and senior partner of Clifford Law Offices, an internationally acclaimed aviation firm in Chicago that represents dozens of families in the Boeing crash of March 10. “Their fight to make the flying public safe is one of the most selfless acts I have ever seen in my career as an aviation attorney.  Instead of burying their heads on this six-month anniversary, they choose to be very public about the tragedy they suffered and want to ensure that the plane is safe before it is allowed to fly again.”

The group also wants the FAA to require that all pilots be trained on simulators, not merely computers, before they are allowed to fly the Max8, as Boeing has attempted to convince FAA officials.  

The goal of the memorial vigil also is to allow all investigations to be completed regarding the aircraft and to require full disclosure and transparency of all results of the safety testing of the Max8 as part of the certification process.

“These families know all too well the consequences of cutting corners when it comes to passenger safety. They are unified in unprecedented fashion on insisting that this plane undergo a thorough assessment of its airworthiness, and not another expedited review to support a patchwork fix,” said Frank Pitre partner at Pitre, Cotchett & McCarthy in San Francisco and co-counsel to many of the families who lost loved ones in the Boeing crash on March 10.

The FAA has come under criticism for essentially allowing Boeing to certify the plane itself.  Families have called for the FAA’s safety head, Ali Bahrami, to resign as well as all heads of Boeing. 

The first Boeing Max8 plane crashed into the Java Sea about nine minutes after taking off from Indonesia on Oct. 29, 2018, killing all 189 on board.  

The plane was not grounded worldwide until 157 more lives were lost on March 10, 2019 when a second 737 Max8 crashed about six minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, headed for Kenya.

The Justice Department is in the middle of a criminal investigation of Boeing in connection with the two crashes.

The Seattle Times reported last week that a former Boeing official who played a key role in the development of the 737 MAX has refused to provide documents sought by federal prosecutors, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Mark Forkner, Boeing’s chief technical pilot on the MAX project, invoked the privilege in response to a grand jury subpoena issued by U.S. Justice Department prosecutors looking into the design and certification of the plane.

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