Will Boeing Be Sued Over Malaysia Airlines Flight 370? Despite The Airline's Shady Past, Probably Not
When Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 dropped off the radar over a month ago, it seemed impossible that it would stay missing for long. Six weeks on, and the families of the jet's passengers have had to accept the uncertain conclusion that the Boeing 777 jetliner "ended" in the Indian Ocean. Now, some families of Flight 370 victims are considering suing, but Boeing — a powerhouse of the aircraft industry, sued by pretty much everyone in the universe — is really, really unlikely to be affected.
The company truly has a terrifying history. Back in 1994, the Seattle Times found that 2,700 Boeing 737s that were being used were actually flying with a defective part that could move the plane in the opposite direction being steered. The report was based on 20 years of reports given to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Just last year, in January 2013, all of Boeing's U.S.- based Dreamliners were grounded by the FAA, after several of the jets' lithium-ion batteries actually caught fire.
The findings were especially terrifying, given that the FAA — the U.S. national aviation authority, which oversees the safety of civil aviation — gave Boeing the power to essentially self-certify its own designs back in 2009.
Boeing, which produces both commercial and military aircraft, is also no stranger to lawsuits. From discrimination lawsuits to labor lawsuits involving President Obama, the company has pretty much seen it all, and survived.
Way back in 1989, Boeing had to pay over $5 million after pleading guilty to "illegally obtaining" classified Pentagon documents. In 2000, it coughed up roughly 15 times that amount, after two whistleblower lawsuits accused the conglomerate of putting defective gears in helicopters that it then sold to the U.S. army. In 2006, Boeing payed a record amount — $615 million — to settle a lawsuit claiming it had "improperly used competitors’ information to procure contracts for launch services worth billions of dollars from the U.S. Air Force and the NASA."
The President got involved in 2011, when National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) sued the aircraft maker for “violating federal labor law” by choosing to open an aircraft production plant in South Carolina, a union-unfriendly state — the charges were eventually dropped, but not before Obama was forced to step in and call for a settlement.
And those are just (a handful of) the lawsuits that have nothing to do with crashes and air safety. Over the last nine years, the aircraft maker has been sued for at least five different airplane accidents, including the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-800 that crashed only minutes after taking off from an airport in Lebanon back in 2005, killing 83 passengers and seven crew — almost all of them have already been thrown out of court, ostensibly because the crashes took place in foreign countries, with most of the plaintiffs not being American. Boeing is also currently being sued for the recent Asiana Airlines flight that crashed in San Francisco International airport last July.
Somehow, though, the aircraft maker isn't actually feeling any deep repercussions, and it's looking that won't be changing anytime soon. Though Boeing shares initially went through a little dip when the Malaysia Airlines disappearances first dominated the headlines, the company's revenue has actually gone up by 8 percent this year.
"Our outlook for the full year remains positive on the strength of demand for our fuel-efficient new commercial airplanes, our solid position in global defense, space and security markets, and our enterprise focus on meeting customer commitments, improving productivity and profitably delivering the growth in our sizable backlog," the Boeing CEO said to ABC news. And then Beelzebub rolled up his contract and walked away.