Kreindler Partner Brian J. Alexander represents the largest group of families in the United States litigation arising from the August 14, 2005, crash of a Boeing 737-300 model aircraft, serial number 29099, operating as Helios Airways Flight 522 near Athens Greece. Following a routine maintenance check the aircraft pressurization mode selector (PMS) was inadvertently left in the manual position, rather than the automatic position, and as a result the aircraft failed to automatically pressurize during the climb to altitude. The flight crew misinterpreted the dual purpose aural warning as an indication of an aircraft configuration problem and became incapacitated from hypoxia and the aircraft crashed after running out of fuel. All 121 men, women and children on board were killed. Plaintiffs are United States residents and citizens of Greece and Cyprus.
Kreindler has discovered that since at least as early as 1999, Boeing was aware of increased reports on pressurization incidents in the Boeing 737 fleet, including several high profile incidents nearly identical to the Helios flight involving mis-configuration of the pressurization system by the flight crew and related confusion due to the misleading dual purpose aural warning system. As a result, safety recommendations were made to Boeing requesting an evaluation of the dual use of the warning horn and the absence of a separate warning light for low cabin pressurization.
Kreindler has discovered that less than a year before the crash the NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System issued a hauntingly prophetic alert bulletin to Boeing which highlighted the "confusing and potentially misleading aural warning" and [Boeing's] "lack of wisdom of having the TKOF (take off) warning horn double as the ALT (altitude) warning horn. "Notably, it was not until October 2005 that Boeing revised the 737 Flight Crew Training Manuals to include a new section entitled Air Systems/Cabin Altitude Warning. Among other things, the new section "... reminds crews how to understand and recognize the differences between cabin altitude and takeoff configuration warnings." Id. at 150-51 (emphasis in the original). The firm has filed suit against Boeing in federal court in Illinois and is vigorously fighting Boeing's efforts to dismiss the case on forum non conveniens grounds.