In an emotional address, Paul Njoroge, the Bermuda resident who lost his family in the Ethiopian Airlines crash, appealed to the US House Subcommittee on Aviation to exercise greater oversight and aviation safety procedures, instead of greed.
In his heart-wrenching testimony last month, the grieving widower said his “life has no meaning”, since he lost his wife and family on board that fateful flight that killed all 157 people aboard.
The Boeing 737 Max8 aircraft crashed six minutes after takeoff on March 10, 2019, marking the deadliest aircraft accident to occur in Ethiopia.
The Butterfield Wealth Management employee said: “It is difficult for me to think of anything else but the horror they must have felt. I cannot get it out of my mind.
“The lack of foresight and greed behind this inadequate training hurts the core of my very being,
“I will never understand how any person, how any corporation, can be so selfish and so sightless in its duty to allow passengers to travel safely from one place to another.”
Mr Njoroge tragically lost his his wife Caroline Karanja, seven-year-old son Ryan Njoroge Njuguna, four-year-old daughter Kerry Paul Wanjiku Njuguna, seven-month-old daughter Rubi Wangui Njuguna, and his mother-in-law Ann Wangui Karanja in the plane crash.
He thanked the Chairman, Ranking Members and Distinguished Members of the committee in his opening remarks, for allowing him to testify and come before them “with a broken heart”.
“It is not something that this Committee or that Congress can fix, but I push myself every day to try to do something in the memory of my family, my entire family that was killed in the second Boeing crash in Ethiopia.
“My wife, Carolyne, a wonderful mother to our children, and who we talked about getting old together. Our three children, Ryan, six years old with the whole world ahead of him as he dreamed of being an astronaut one day. Kelli, just four years old, and the light of everyone’s eye. And little nine-month-old Rubi, a baby who sat on her mommy’s lap who I wish I could hold just one more time.
“I have nightmares about how they must have clung to their mother, crying, seeing the fright in her eyes as they sat there helplessly. And there was nothing I could do to save them. My mom in law sat beside them with tickets I had purchased for them that was to be a trip of a lifetime.
“I paid for plane tickets that was to be a safe flight. I did not know all of the information of which Boeing knew about how dangerous that plane was yet the corporation allowed 157 people to board that dangerous plane that could not land safely. I never knew it would be the last time I would ever see them.
Mr Njoroge continued: “I miss their laughter, their playfulness, their touch. I am empty. I feel that I should have been on that plane with them.
“But I speak for more than myself who are trying to cope with this insufferable loss. I speak for all of the families who lost loved ones whom they will never see again and who were tragically torn from their lives because of reckless conduct on the part of so many, particularly Boeing, a company who became steadfast in its single-minded quest to place blame on so-called
He chastised Boeing for developing “a pattern of behavior blaming innocent pilots who had no knowledge and give no information of the new and flawed MCAS system that could overpower pilots”, since “the first Max8 crash”.
With “no manual, no training” and “no information” provided, he asked how they were supposed to know how that system worked.
“Yet they were put in those cockpits and expected to know what to do,” he said.
“Instead of accepting responsibility and informing pilots around the world, Boeing continued its blame game on pilots, to shift focus from its own responsibilities until the second plane crashed.
“Then the world turned its focus on those who were really culpable. It could no longer be denied by Boeing.
“Little did passengers around the world know of the close relationship that Boeing had with the FAA. So close that apparently the FAA was allowing Boeing to certify planes, like the Max8, for flying without supervising those doing the certification.
“The FAA should have known that the failure to have triple redundancy in critical safety systems could cause crashes and death.
“This has to become part of an improved FAA, checking safety and certification requirements. No excuses can replace this necessity.”
And he blasted the FAA for allowing “a flawed software package to rely upon data from a single angle of attack sensor”. Sensors that already had “a relatively high rate of error”.
Mr Njoroge demanded that “the 737 Max8 be fully recertified as a new plane because it is too different from the original plane designed at the beginning of the Vietnam War”.
“The FAA’s practice of grandfathering old designs and granting waivers on new designs has significant human costs.
“Boeing persuaded the FAA to certify the Boeing 737 MAX8 as a 737, a plane designed in 1966.,” he said.
“The 737 has a low fuselage compared to modern planes. The low fuselage is a relic from more than 50 years ago when staircases to the tarmac were the method of getting passengers on and off planes.”
And he called on the FAA to “require simulator training, as do airline passenger groups, and the famous pilot, Captain Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger”.
Since the two crashes the FAA “proposed only requiring an hour-long iPad tutorial for cost reasons”.
“The simple fact that only two 737 MAX simulators exist in North America, Boeing and the FAA are resisting this basic requirement that could have prevented these two crashes,” Mr Njoroge said.
As “an investment professional”, he also moved “to inform Congress as to how Boeing has viewed this whole crisis – only through the lens of its stock price and the security of their executives’ jobs”.
“By focusing only on cutting costs and spending profits to pump up the stock price, rather than reinvesting in safety, Boeing’s CEO has managed to steer the company’s stock (NYSE:BA) from a price of $140 on July 1, 2015 to last week closing price of $365.”
When it comes to the bottom line, he said: “Some investors and traders might have even banked higher profits when the price reached $446 some days before the second March 10 crash of its Boeing 737 Max8 in Ethiopia.”