Boeing Sued By Southwest Pilots Assn


In a move sure to cause tension between Boeing and arguably its best customer in the U.S., the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association filed suit against the planemaker today, alleging that Boeing misled the union when it claimed the 737 MAX flew just like its predecessor aircraft. Southwest flies a fleet made up exclusively of Boeing 737 aircraft. The suit is asking for $100 million in compensation for its pilots’ lost wages.

According to SWAPA, the lawsuit says “that SWAPA pilots agreed to fly the 737 MAX aircraft based on Boeing’s representations that it was airworthy and essentially the same as the time-tested 737 aircraft that its pilots have flown for years. These representations were false. “

“As pilots, there is nothing more important to us than the safety of our passengers,” said Captain Jonathan L. Weaks, president of SWAPA. “We have to be able to trust Boeing to truthfully disclose the information we need to safely operate our aircraft. In the case of the 737 MAX, that absolutely did not happen.” 

According to the suit, “Boeing is liable to SWAPA for the damages it and its pilots have sustained, and continue to sustain, as the result of: Boeing’s false representations concerning the 737 MAX aircraft; Boeing’s interference in SWAPA’s contract and business relationship with Southwest that led to SWAPA agreeing to include the 737 MAX aircraft as a term of the CBA and to operate the aircraft; and Boeing’s negligence in self-certifying an aircraft that Boeing knew would be subject to a grounding order if the truth were discovered because it did not meet—and, to this day, does not meet—federal airworthiness requirements.”

SWAPA is also objecting to the fact that the grounding of the MAX has caused the airline to cancel some 30,000 flights. “This is expected to reduce the airline’s passenger service 8 percent by the end of 2019, resulting in compensation losses for SWAPA pilots in excess of $100 million,” said the pilots union. 

SWAPA understands that it’s unlikely the MAX will be returned to service before next year. Yet, “it is critical that Boeing takes whatever time is necessary to safely return the MAX to service,” added Captain Weaks. “Our pilots should not be expected to take a significant and ever-expanding financial loss as a result of Boeing’s negligence. We look forward to a solution that helps Boeing restore the confidence of both the flying public and the pilots who operate its aircraft.”

Marc Cook
KITPLANES Editor in Chief Marc Cook has been in aviation journalism for more than 30 years. He is a 4000-hour instrument-rated, multi-engine pilot with experience in nearly 150 types. He’s completed two kit aircraft, an Aero Designs Pulsar XP and a Glasair Sportsman 2+2, and currently flies a 2002 GlaStar.

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  1. This is the tip of the iceberg. There will be plenty of other airlines and their pilot’s unions that will follow.

  2. Interesting. Surely, the union members were damaged, but who is really suing, the union or the MAX pilots? In fact, did SWA even buy the planes from Boeing, or lease them? One thing is for sure, the union didn’t buy any planes. Our legal system has become a hot mess.

  3. This is ridiculous. What damage has Boeing done to Southwest or any other pilot’s union. What damage have they done to the pilots? Boeing screwed up big time with the max but any US pilot would have been able to overcome it. Unfortunately you had third world pilots who don’t have the type of training first world pilots have and many people died. Not excusing Boeing’s very bad engineering decisions but really what standing do these people have? None.

    • Wow. Really? The US is the best and everyone else is third world? That is a very narrow and outdated view of the world and of the US.
      In case you had not noticed, we are fast sinking into a third world environment with our crumbling infrastructure, corruption in business and government, incompetence in government, infant mortality rates, food supply chain protection… name it.
      To automatically assume that any US pilot would have saved the day, and that third world pilots are the reason the two airplanes crashed is asinine. The reason the two airplanes crashed, is because Boeing and the FAA are corrupt, and put money before anything else. Boeing is liable.

  4. There’s nothing more important to the safety of our passengers……except money! $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$