Njoroge lets loose at FAA in US Congress
A man who lost his wife, three children and his mother-in-law in a plane crash in Ethiopia in March accused the aircraft’s manufacturer of wrongful conduct yesterday.
Paul Njoroge said that Boeing had “shifted focus” from the design flaws of the 737 Max aircraft which had caused the fatal crash and one five months earlier in Indonesia to “foreign pilot error”.
He added: “This distracted from correcting the real causes of the crashes and is an insult to humanity.
“Boeing and their apologists want to shift scrutiny from their single-minded quest for short-term profits over safety and place it on foreign pilots, who like domestic American pilots, were left in the dark by Boeing.”
He questioned whether Boeing would have used the term domestic pilot error if the crashes had taken place in the US.
Mr Njoroge said: “The term foreign pilot error is utter prejudice and a disrespect to pilots and Boeing customers across the world.”
He was speaking as he gave testimony to a United States congressional inquiry into the Boeing crashes.
Mr Njoroge lost wife Carol, 34, son Ryan, 6, daughters Kelli, 4, and Rubi, aged nine months, as well as mother-in-law Ann Wangui Quindos Karanja, when Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, Kenya, crashed on March 10.
His family lived in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and were on their way home to Kenya when they died. Mr Njoroge, a Kenyan-born banker, was expected to join them later.
None of the 157 passengers and crew members on board survived. The 737 Max was globally grounded in March after the crash in Ethiopia and a similar crash in Indonesia five months earlier.
Lion Air Flight 610 from Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang crashed into the Java Sea 12 minutes after take-off on October 29.
All 189 passengers and crew members were killed.
Mr Njoroge said that Boeing had used the “fallacy of foreign pilot error” to avoid grounding 737 Max aircraft after the crash in Indonesia.
He added: “That decision killed my family and 152 others.”
Mr Njoroge said that the Federal Aviation Administration had “recklessly left Boeing to police itself”.
He testified that he thought about the final moments of his family member’s lives “a lot”.
Mr Njoroge added: “My wife and my mom-in-law knew they were going to die.
“They had to somehow comfort the children during those final moments knowing they were their last.
“I wish I was there with them.”
Mr Njoroge said that he had not received a personal apology from the plane manufacturer.
He added: “They know who the next of kin of these victims are, but they have not come to us and they have not apologised in person. It’s hard to trust Boeing with their apologies given that they have not reached out to us.”
Boeing announced this month that it would provide $100 million over several years to local governments and NGOs to help those affected by the crashes.
The company said yesterday that it will dedicate half of the $100 million fund to provide payments to families who had members killed.
Boeing said the $100 million would be independent from the outcome of any lawsuit.
Mr Njoroge this week thanked the people of Bermuda for their support during “testing times”.
In a letter sent to The Royal Gazette, Mr Njoroge said: “Through your prayer, contributions, sessions and services, as well as your messages in the condolence book, we have come to feel your love and warmth, which no doubt has helped us through this stage.
“We are going through an extremely difficult time in our lives. Our wellbeing and little strength come from your words and actions of encouragement, and your messages of hope.
“I cannot, therefore, thank you enough for your expressions of sympathy, good thoughts and prayers. I can only wish you God’s blessings every day of your lives.”