Passengers of the ill-fated Emirates flight that crashed-landed in Dubai in 2016 have the right to sue Boeing, an American court has ruled.
The flight – EK 521 – crashed at Dubai International Airport on August 3 2016 after flying in from Thiruvananthapuram in the Indian state of Kerala.
Although all 300 passengers survived, 30 were hospitalised and an Emirati firefighter, 27-year-old Jassim Al Baloushi, was killed in the ensuing fire.
A lawsuit filed in Cook County (Chicago) Illinois, alleges that a switch used by the aircraft’s pilots to perform a “go around” manoeuvre was defective and failed to activate during the incident, and failed to provide sufficient power to the aircraft’s engines to allow it to perform the manoeuvre.
At least 15 passengers are believed to be suing using two law firms, the US-based aviation specialists Wisner Law and the London-based Stewarts, which is representing at least one British family that was on board the aircraft.
Boeing, has contested the lawsuit and argued that it should either not be heard or heard in a UAE-based court. The recent decision by the American court, however, paves the way for the lawsuit to proceed in a US court.
“Our clients are not critical of Emirates and feel that the crew performed heroically,” Stewarts partner Peeter Neenan is quoted as saying in The National. “Their claim is against Boeing for a switch that, without warning, did not function as expected.”
Days after the accident in 2016, Stewarts’ head of aviation, James Healy-Pratt, commented that “the Emirates crew did a superb and professional job of evacuating the aircraft without any serious physical injuries to passengers or crew.”
“However, our experience of helping many passengers in fire related aviation evacuation incidents worldwide is that psychological injuries are common-place and often under-estimated by many,” he added. “It is fortunate there were no passenger or crew fatalities here.”
An interim report released in August 2017 by the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) found that “analysis of the data downloaded indicates that there were no aircraft systems or engine abnormalities up to the time of the accident.”
The GCAA, however, has not released a full report on the incident and is not expected to do so until at least 2019.