Families of Boeing 737 MAX crash victims feel 'renewed grief' as aircraft ruled safe to fly again

The decision is being criticised as having been made "too soon".
The decision is being criticised as having been made "too soon". Photo credit: Boeing.

Relatives of the 346 people killed in two Boeing 737 MAX crashes have spoken out against the ruling by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to lift the ban imposed on the aircraft, which allows it to return to the skies.

The two fatal crashes happened within five months of each other in 2018 and 2019, in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

Last week, the FAA lifted the ban on the MAX aircraft which has been in place for 20 months. But lifting the grief, pain and anger isn't as easy.

In a statement, families of the Ethiopian crash victims said they felt "sheer disappointment and renewed grief" after the FAA's decision to return the aircraft to service.

Aris Sugiono, who lost his sister and brother-in-law in the Indonesian crash, told Reuters the families weren't taken into consideration when the decision was being made.

"The US authorities shouldn't have lifted the grounding order this quickly," Sugiono said.

"They must consider the feelings of the victims' families."

Anton Sahadi lost two young relatives who were onboard the Indonesian flight and agreed the decision was made "too soon".

"The victims' families haven't 100 percent recovered yet," Sahadi told Reuters

"Our family was broken," said Naoise Ryan, whose husband died onboard Ethiopian Airlines flight 302.

It's often the case that decisions made by the FAA are immediately implemented by similar aviation authorities around the world. That hasn't happened this time.

Many countries are yet to make a decision as to when they will allow the MAX aircraft to return to their skies.

In Indonesia, relatives are questioning why the decision to clear the aircraft to fly again was made faster than any effort to grant the family's compensation.

"Why has the flight permit been granted while the affairs of the victims' family have not been fully resolved?" asked Latief Nurbana, who lost his 24-year-old son in the crash.

He said compensation payments and arrangements with the Boeing Community Investment Fund (BCIF) were still unsettled.

The BCIF's website said that the distribution of funds to provide philanthropic support to communities affected by the crashes would be completed by January, 2021.