Lawsuit Filed Against Southwest, Boeing and Chicago by Passenger Midway Jet Crash

The suit was filed by a Naval officer then living in Annapolis, MD , who suffered physical and psychological injuries as a result of the accident.


NEW YORK, April 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Citing an array of operational and training shortcomings and critically-flawed judgment, a passenger injured during the fatal landing in a snowstorm last December of Southwest Airlines(SWA) Flight 1248 at Chicago's Midway Airport today sued the airline. Also named in the suit filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, IL, are the airplane manufacturer, The Boeing Company, and the City of Chicago, which owns and operates the airport.

The suit was filed by the aviation law firm Kreindler & Kreindler LLP on behalf of the passenger, a Naval officer then living in Annapolis, MD , who suffered physical and psychological injuries as a result of the accident.

The suit claims that a series of negligent and willful operational, judgmental and training failures by the defendants led to the accident, including Southwest's failure to properly calculate the required landing distance; failure to discontinue an unstable approach; and failure to properly train the flight crew in the use of the airplane's autobrake, reverse thrusters and spoiler systems. The suit also alleges that the crew's first officer did not even have his seat in a position to reach and apply the brakes.

"Southwest Airlines acted in conscious disregard for the safety of its passengers on Flight 1248, as well as for the victims on the ground and the general public," said Kreindler's Daniel O. Rose, a highly trained pilot who successfully litigated a similar case against Southwest stemming from a runway overrun in Burbank, CA, in March 2000. "Concerns about cost savings -- a known element of the corporate culture of this particular airline -- combined with sub-standard crew training and poor judgment by the pilots of this flight resulted in a horrific event, including the tragic death of a young boy on the ground."

Airline's Dangerous Corporate Culture

Mr. Rose cited a report issued by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on April 4, 2006, regarding another SWA incident in Amarillo, TX, on May 24, 2003. Together with the Burbank and Chicago accidents, Mr. Rose said there is concern that SWA flight crews may not be adhering to the high level of safety required of commercial air carriers.

"In the Amarillo incident, a SWA flight crew similarly attempted a dangerous approach and landing, that time during a thunderstorm," said Mr. Rose. "That aircraft ran off the side of the runway. The Amarillo flight crew apparently disregarded safety in its decision to get that plane down. "The NTSB Amarillo incident report reveals that the captain, after telling the first officer, "aw you've seen worse [thunderstorms depicted on the aircraft's radar]," then told the first officer, "man you're gonna be a god out of this whole thing I can tell, a hero," which was followed by audible laughter. Then, according to the NTSB report, only seconds before touchdown, the captain is heard telling the first officer, "do it... you can do it," followed by "ten feet, put her down." During the landing rollout, the aircraft veered off the runway and the nose gear collapsed.

"The NTSB findings about the Amarillo accident are eerily similar to the Chicago and Burbank incidents," said Mr. Rose. "There are approaches no pilot should ever attempt."

Fatal Midway Accident Reveals Improper Use of On-Board Performance Computer and Thrust Reverser System

The Flight 1248 suit claims that Southwest used an on-board performance computer system (OPC), designed to calculate the required landing distance, that was negligently designed and programmed. Mr. Rose said: "The computer system should not have taken a credit for the ability of the thrust reverser system to assist in slowing the plane down immediately upon touchdown. But it did so, and as a result it calculated a landing distance that was less than what was actually needed because the thrust reversers were not timely deployed."

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