Zekarias Shenkut lost his brother Ato Mulugeta Asfaw Shenkut in the crash of Ethiopian flight 302 in March 2019. He and  brother-in-law Sintayehu Wondmsigegn talked about the loss at a news conference in Seattle on July 22, 2019.
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Zekarias Shenkut lost his brother Ato Mulugeta Asfaw Shenkut in the crash of Ethiopian flight 302 in March 2019. He and brother-in-law Sintayehu Wondmsigegn talked about the loss at a news conference in Seattle on July 22, 2019.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Carolyn Adolph

Boeing crash family serves notice it will sue FAA

Family members who lost a loved one in the crash of an Ethiopian 737 MAX jet are launching a new lawsuit. They're already suing Boeing. Now they’re preparing to sue the Federal Aviation Administration for $800 million.

Zekarias Shenkut's brother Mulugeta died a few minutes after boarding Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 last March. His family lost a husband and father. His country lost a public servant who encouraged relatives to follow their ambitions to America, but who stayed to work for a better Ethiopia.

“This is not a loss that you would just keep it to yourself,” Shenkut told a news conference in Seattle.

His brother, Ato Mulugeta Asfa Shenkut, was a father of three children who was working on a project to improve Ethiopia's water supply.

News reports about the crash bring the grief back almost every day. “It comes back in waves, and makes me collapse at times," he said.

The family is already suing Boeing over their loss. Now they are serving notice that they plan to sue the Federal Aviation Administration, which certified the 737 Max as airworthy. They want $800 million and answers.

The lawsuit is expected to contend, among other things, that the FAA failed to enforce its own regulations when it allowed Boeing to publish a manual to pilots that did not mention the MCAS automated system.

The FAA says it does not comment on litigation. It has six months to respond to the suit. Boeing has said it is working to eliminate the chain of events that caused the crashes.

Boeing has offered a fund of $100 million for those affected by the crash. However family members say it has never communicated with them. They also say this lawsuit is not about money.

Shenkut said his family wants to know why the problems that caused the first crash in — Lion Air in 2018 — weren't corrected before the Ethiopian crash.

He said Mulugeta's three children, ages 14, 9 and 2, have questions about what happened the that family can't answer. Shenkut said it's important that the children know people were held accountable.