Southwest Airline Pilots Sue Boeing for $100 Million Over Grounding of 737 MAX

Southwest Airlines Pilot Association wants compensation for members due to grounded flights.
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Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX franckreporter/iStock

Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA) filed a lawsuit against Boeing for $100 million, arguing the grounding of the 737 MAX has caused union members to lose money as 30,000 scheduled flights have been eliminated. 

The lawsuit, which the union announced in a press release, contends Boeing "deliberately" mislead the airline and its pilots about the 737 MAX. Boeing claimed the aircraft was "airworthy" and the same as the 737 pilots had flown for years but that representation was false, SWAPA wrote. It said the errors with the 737 MAX caused the death of 346 people, hurt the bond between passengers and pilots and reduced air travel around the world.  


Southwest Airlines Pilot Association says pilots were duped by Boeing 

In the complaint, which was filed in Dallas County, Texas, the union said Boeing made a "calculated" decision to "rush" the aircraft to the market and in doing so ignored design and engineering practices. The lawsuit argues Boeing's claims caused the union to belive the 737 MAX was safe and as a result pilots agreed to fly the aircraft for Southwest Airlines. 

“As pilots, there is nothing more important to us than the safety of our passengers,” said Captain Jonathan L. Weaks, President of SWAPA said in a press release announcing the lawsuit. “We have to be able to trust Boeing to truthfully disclose the information we need to safely operate our aircraft. In the case of the 737 MAX, that absolutely did not happen.”

SWAPA also said that had the union known the truth about the 737 MAX in 2016 it wouldn't have agreed to fly it and would have demanded Boeing fix the flaws of the aircraft that led to the Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashes. 

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Union wants $100 million from Boeing 

"Boeing is liable to SWAPA for the damages it and its pilots have sustained, and continue to sustain, as the result of: Boeing’s false representations concerning the 737 MAX aircraft; Boeing’s interference in SWAPA’s contract and business relationship with Southwest that led to SWAPA agreeing to include the 737 MAX aircraft as a term of the CBA and to operate the aircraft; and Boeing’s negligence in self-certifying an aircraft that Boeing knew would be subject to a grounding order if the truth were discovered because it did not meet—and, to this day, does not meet—federal airworthiness requirements," the lawsuit states. 

According to SWAPA the grounding of the 737 MAX is expected to lower passenger service for the airline by 8% by the end of this year, which will result in compensation losses for pilots of more than $100 million. The union noted Southwest is the biggest operator of the 737 MAX, which isn't expected to be back in operations until the early part of next year.