Exclusive: Families of Crash Victims Speak Ahead of Mediation With Boeing

In October 2018 and in March 2019, a pair of Boeing 737 Max airliners crashed, and this week, some relatives whose loved ones perished on the planes are sharing their stories with mediators as a mediation hearing gets underway.

Two of those relatives spoke exclusively to NBC 5, and they are expressing hope that a similar tragedy won’t befall any other family, and are hope that justice will prevail in the case.

On Wednesday, mediations began between Boeing and attorneys representing over 50 families who lost loved ones in the crash of Lion Air Flight 610, just minutes after takeoff. 

A total of 346 people were killed in the the Lion Air crash, as well as a crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jet. The crashes have spawned investigations and led to the grounding of Max 737 jets in the United States and in other countries around the world.

The families of the victims are negotiating with Boeing to reach an amicable resolution without going to trial, and family of two of the victims spoke to NBC 5 this week as they shared fond memories of those lost in the crash.

“I just want justice,” Vinni Wulandari said.

Wulandari’s older brother Harvino was a copilot on the doomed Lion Air plane, which crashed in October in the Java Sea.

Harvino was working to become a captain after seven years of flying with Lion Air. Vinni says her brother didn’t have a manual to help him when things went fatally wrong with the plane’s MCAS system.

“He wasn’t trained on the new software already installed on the plane,” she said.

After the same model Ethiopian Airlines plane went down in March, investigators began to zero in on the software and to question whether it played a part in the crashes. 

“That’s why I am here today, because I want my brother’s name to go back to being good,” Vinni Wulandari said.

Another man who spoke to NBC 5 lost his son Raan Ariandi on the Lion Air flight. The young man was just 24 years old when the plane he was flying on crashed.

“He wanted to work as a policeman, and he wanted to make his family proud of him," Raan's father Abdurahman said. 

“I want to cry,” Abdurahman's translator said, overcome with emotion in recounting the story. 

Attorneys for the families say that neither one of their loved ones’ bodies have been recovered, and their stories are two of dozens being shared with officials in the mediations this week.

“A lot have been interviewed already,” attorney Manuel von Ribbeck said. “There has been testimony, drafted affidavits, so we’re prepared for litigation and trial if necessary.”

Attorney Monica Kelly says that the families of the 52 victims represented in the suit believe that Boeing is entering meditation in good faith, and they believe they can work together to resolve the case without a trial.

Dozens more family members are making their way to the Chicago area for the mediations, which are expected to last through July 26.

Families are seeking damages, better training for flight crews who operate 737 Max planes, and a permanent fix for issues that occurred on the planes.

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