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SilkAir Litigation

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SilkAir Litigation

Old 17th Dec 2003, 04:11
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SilkAir Litigation

Boeing drops pilot suicide claims against SilkAir
Tuesday December 16, 7:17 am ET

SINGAPORE, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Boeing Co (NYSE:BA - News) has dropped a lawsuit against SilkAir and the pilot of the passenger jet that mysteriously crashed in 1997 after new evidence suggested a mechanical fault, a Singapore newspaper reported on Tuesday.

SilkAir Flight MI 185 from Jakarta to Singapore plunged into Indonesia's Musi River on December 19, 1997, killing all 104 people aboard.

Air traffic controllers received no distress call and Indonesian transport authorities said the wreckage "yielded no evidence to explain the cause of the accident".

SilkAir was not immediately available for comment.

Lawyers representing the families of the passengers had argued in a Singapore court two years ago that the aircraft was deliberately put into a nose-dive by the pilot.

Singapore's New Paper in its afternoon edition said lawyers for SilkAir's insurers said Boeing had dropped its suit against the pilot Captain Tsu Way Ming and the carrier, a unit of Singapore Airlines Ltd (SES:SIAL.SI - News), Asia's largest airline by market value.

Boeing had also reached an out-of-court settlement with families of the crash victims, the newspaper reported.

The aircraft maker had previously alleged that pilot action had caused the crash.

But the newspaper said new evidence points to a rudder malfunction, which likely caused the plane to go into a fatal nose dive.

Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee said in an earlier crash report that the highly fragmented wreckage "yielded no evidence to explain the cause of the accident".

The New Paper - 17 Dec 2003

SILKAIRE MI 185 CRASH: Boeing agrees to settle outof court

Victims have yet to agree, say lawyers

By Karen Wong

FROM the word go, aircraft-maker Boeing has maintained that pilot suicide, not a defective aircraft, led to the tragic crash of SilkAir MI 185 in 1997.

Now, The New Paper has learnt from the lawyers for SilkAir's insurers that Boeing has dropped its suit against the pilot, Captain Tsu Way Ming, and his employer, the airline. This means that it is no longer pursuing its original claim that the pilot had intentionally crashed the plane.

In another twist, Boeing has also reached an out-of-court settlement with families of the crash victims.

With three days to go before the sixth anniversary of the crash, relatives of those who died may finally have a closure to the case.

Details of the settlement with the families are still being worked out, American lawyers for the families told The New Paper, as the agreement has been accepted by the lawyers, but not yet formally agreed on by the families.

'The amount to be paid by Boeing is in addition to the US$200,000 paid by SilkAir and, we believe, reflects Boeing's recognition of the potential that a jury could find in favour of the next-of-kin and against Boeing for this loss,' said Mr Tom Ellis, director of litigation support at Nolan Law Group, which represents 15 families in this action.

'However, it is not a formal admission of liability by Boeing,' he added.


In a reciprocal move, SilkAir's insurer, Singapore Aviation and General Insurance Company (Sagi) - a wholly-owned subsidiary of Singapore Airlines - has also dropped its $100 million lawsuit against Boeing and other aircraft component manufacturers for supplying a 'defective aircraft'.

The latest moves come on the back of crucial new evidence which appears to suggest the fatal crash was due to a rudder malfunction.

In May this year, The New Paper reported that on closer scrutiny of the plane's flight data recorder (FDR), American aviation experts found that it had not stopped recording minutes before the dive, as earlier thought, but had gone on recording upon the plane's dive.

And according to Nolan Law Group, which appointed the experts, the data in the FDR pointed to a problem with the rudder.

The evidence, which had apparently eluded the official investigators, would rule out pilot suicide as a cause of the mysterious crash that killed all 104 people on board.

Such a conclusion is also consistent with the finding of the Singapore High Court in 2001, that there was not enough evidence to suggest intentional pilot action had caused the crash.

The court then dismissed the legal claims against the airline by family members of six victims.

The theory that a possible faulty rudder led to the crash has prompted several families to pursue their claim with the component manufacturer.

They had sued Parker-Hannifin Corporation - which makes the rudder power control unit - and the trial has been set to go on in the US, in April next year.

This is the only outstanding legal action left, in relation to the SilkAir MI 185 crash.

On the settlement between Boeing and the airline's insurer, the lawyer for SilkAir's insurer, Mr Philip Bass from Beaumont & Sons, said: 'There's been a mutual dismissal of the claims which has brought this long-standing matter to a close.'

Yesterday , Mr Ellis confirmed that they have tentatively resolved the matter with Boeing.

'If everything goes as it should, all of the claims by all of the next-of-kin against Boeing should be settled,' he told The New Paper in a phone interview.

Other lawyers say that it is not unusual for plane crash settlements to exceed millions of dollars.


In May, Professor Oetarjo Diran, who headed the crash's official investigations, told The New Paper that while he had not examined the new evidence personally, it was indeed a significant discovery if it was true.

When contacted yesterday, Prof Diran, who has since retired as chairman of the Indonesian NTSC, said: 'If both sides cannot prove their points, they usually settle out of court.'

He noted that the NTSC couldn't conclude it was an 'intentional pilot action' either.

In the NTSC's official crash report, the only conclusion it arrived at was that it could not give a definite conclusion as to what had led to the crash.

But while the latest development may give more credence to the faulty rudder theory, it will not ease the pain for the family members of those who died.

Mr Ho Soo Leang, 37, who lost his sister, senior flight stewardess Ho Soo Phong who was then 29, is involved in the lawsuit against Boeing.

He said: 'The conclusion about the crash lies with the individual.

'But not being able to leave no stone unturned will be with us for the rest of our lives.'
Shore Guy is offline  
Old 17th Dec 2003, 19:29
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In other words, still no one really knows for certain what caused the aircraft to crash. If it was an uncommanded rudder movement while in the cruise, then the recovery would have been relatively straight forward particularly as both crew members had been certified competent at recoveries from jet upsets in the simulator on their last proficiency checks.

This all came out at the court case in Singapore.
Old 18th Dec 2003, 06:24
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Menen is correct. Any situation caused by uncommanded rudder movement at FL 350 could have been controlled easily by either pilot in this case.

Despite the claims by the "New Paper" which is published in Lyin' City (Singapore Inc), the DFDR did actually stop recording some 70 seconds prior to the aircraft's descent.

Does any claimed uncommanded rudder also cause:
* the CVR's cb to be tripped
* the auto-throttle system to be disabled
* the stab trim to be fully nose down
* any situation that could prevent a mayday call....??

I think not. This legal case has been discontinued simply because it happens to suit the parties involved. Of course, Lyin' City will naturally make as much milage as possible out of that but always remember that the paper is preaching to those who, in any event, dare not question Singapore Inc.
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Old 18th Dec 2003, 17:18
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Initial pilot SUICIDE theory..MI185...

I guess no one would ever offer any apologies on all the "assumed guilty till proven innocent" statements and self-learned/appointed aviation experts theories that were posted against the Skipper of MI185. ..



Boeing drops suicide theory
It does U-turn on stance that pilot Tsu Way Ming (below) crashed plane deliberately

JUST days before the sixth anniversary of the crash of SilkAir MI185, aircraft manufacturer Boeing has dropped its lawsuit against the estate of pilot Tsu Way Ming and the airline.

This means that Boeing is also ditching its initial stance that Captain Tsu intentionally crashed the plane into the Musi River in Palembang, Indonesia.

The move appears to come in the wake of new evidence that suggests that a rudder malfunction was, in fact, the cause of the crash, said The New Paper yesterday.

In May, American aviation experts, commissioned by lawyers working for the victims' families, found that the plane's flight data recorder - or the crucial 'black box' in aviation parlance - had not stopped recording information before the plane suddenly dived, contrary to official investigation results.

The experts also found evidence that the plane's rudder - a small section in the tail of the plane which helps steer the aircraft - had malfunctioned.

Again, official investigations into the crash had not been able to pinpoint this as the cause of the crash.

Boeing had initially contested the May findings, but now it appears that it is making a U-turn on its stance.

On Dec 19, 1997, all 104 on board MI185 died when the plane plunged into the murky Musi River during a flight from Jakarta to Singapore.

The faulty-rudder claim is not new. In fact, it was the main theory behind the crash until speculation surfaced that Capt Tsu, then aged 41, had been facing personal and financial problems and had committed suicide.

In 2000, the Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee's 200-page report could not reveal the cause of the crash, but it did not blame Capt Tsu.

In 2001, the Singapore High Court also found that there was not enough evidence to say that the pilot had a direct hand in the crash.

But the six-year saga may finally come to an end with the latest moves.

Besides dropping its suit, Boeing is reported to be reaching out-of-court settlements with the families of the victims, said The New Paper report.

Mr Tom Ellis, director of litigation support at Chicago-based Nolan Law Group, which represents 15 families, had said that the amount Boeing was forking out for the settlement was separate from the SilkAir compensation.

Mr Ellis was also reported as saying that the payout reflected Boeing's recognition that there was a possibility that, taken to court, a jury could find in favour of the families.

Most of the families have accepted SilkAir's compensation package, ranging from US$175,000 (S$301,000) to US$200,000.

SilkAir's insurance company - Singapore Aviation and General Insurance (Sagi) - is also dropping its $100 million lawsuit against Boeing and the manufacturers of the aircraft's parts.

In a statement, SilkAir said that the parties had 'agreed to drop their respective claims and close the matter'.

The widow of Capt Tsu, Mrs Evelyn Tsu, yesterday declined to comment on the latest developments.

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Old 18th Dec 2003, 17:43
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Funny timing but the day after this piece of news hit the stands in SIN, SIA is quoted as expressing a serious interest in BOEING's new offering, the 7E7.

Make your own assumptions....!
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Old 19th Dec 2003, 02:15
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My previous post still stands. Boeing, Singapore Inc, the NTSB and the Indonesian investigation (incl. Prof Diran) all KNOW what happened - they all admit it, albeit somewhat privately in some cases. It's only the legal situation that has changed.
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