TEL AVIV (Jan. 10)
An internal investigation by El Al into the crash of one of its Boeing 747 cargo jets in Amsterdam on Oct. 4 has laid full blame for the disaster on the plane’s American manufacturer.
The report, published Sunday, recommends that the airline sue the Seattle-based Boeing Corp. for full damages. The decision noted a similar loss of an identical China Airline aircraft a year ago.
The commission, headed by Amos Tamir, said Boeing should be sued for the loss of the plane and for compensation for any insurance claims paid out to victims.
More than 40 people died when the plane, enroute to Tel Aviv, slammed into apartment buildings in an Amsterdam suburb.
El Al said damages should be paid as well to the company for injuring its reputation, and for the cost of mounting a giant international public relations campaign to offset the adverse publicity caused by the crash.
In Amsterdam, the Dutch Aviation Board refused to comment on El Al’s conclusion.
The investigation being conducted by the board will take several more months to complete, a board spokesman said.
CREW IS CLEARED
But a representative of the lawyers for the crash victims said El Al’s conclusion would enable them to file their claims with U.S. courts and thus receive more damages than they could through Israeli courts.
The commission cleared the plane’s crew, all of whom perished, of any responsibility for the crash.
The crash was caused by the failure of the pins connecting the No. 3 engine to the right wing, which broke away, tearing away the No. 4 engine too, the report concluded.
The crew did everything in their power to prevent the crash, the investigators stressed.
Investigation into the aircraft’s maintenance showed that no fault lay with ground maintenance engineers or mechanics.
In addition, the commission charged Boeing for its “slow and weak reaction,” bordering “on negligence,” to the earlier crash of the China Airlines plane.
Besides publishing its findings on the October crash, the commission published its report on the circumstances that enabled a stowaway to board an El Al plane bound for Nairobi, Kenya, last week.
The 27-year-old stowaway, David Solimon, who said he was a free-lance journalist investigating El Al security, gave himself up to the crew in midflight.
The commission recommended that the company official in charge of cabin crews should be transferred from his position because of a lack of discipline among cabin attendants regarding certain procedures.
The purser and the two flight attendants on board the Tel Aviv-Nairobi flight should be suspended pending completion of an inquiry to be held this week into their behavior, the report said.
(Contributing to this report was JTA correspondent Henriette Boas in Amsterdam.)