For the rest of us, this is August. But for Paul Njoroge, it still feels like March.
That fateful month left the investment manager in an indefinite state of mourning, after his three children, his wife and his mother-in-law perished aboard the Ethiopian Airline that was heading to Nairobi, Kenya.
“I don’t know about the future. I don’t see beyond what’s happening today. My mind is still always fixated on what happened in March,” he said in a phone interview Friday in Toronto, where he has been living since the tragic death of his family.
Njoroge’s family was flying to Kenya to see the kids’ grandfather when the Boeing 737 Max 8 plane crashed just minutes after taking off from Addis Ababa, killing all 157 passengers. All Max 8 planes were immediately grounded, but Njoroge and other affected families say more safety measures need to be taken before the carrier is allowed back in the sky.
More than 200 people who lost family members in crashes involving Max 8 planes — this one and the Lion Air crash in Indonesia six months earlier — have asked American authorities for stricter certification requirements and training of pilots for the carrier.
In the letter, dated Aug. 6, addressed to the U.S. Department of Transportation and to the Federal Aviation Administration, the families detailed the number of changes the aircraft has undergone over the years since it was introduced back in 1967. They asked the FAA to ensure a complete oversight on the safety aspects of the aircraft, to conduct a full recertification for this aircraft and demanded simulator training for the pilots regardin all new emergency conditions of the 737 Max 8 series.
“We are dedicated to making sure there is no third crash,” the letter reads in part. “We do not want any more families to experience the pain, anguish, sadness and loss that we have experienced.”
Last month Boeing announced its Boeing’s 737 Max jets could remain grounded until October, as the company continues to work on a software fix and getting it certified. A new training module for its pilots is also in the works.
Njoroge, who testified before the U.S. Congress last month, said the abrupt tragic loss of his family has halted so much in his life. Prior to the accident, he was working on a contract in Bermuda, and would regularly visit his family in Hamilton. He and his wife were wrapping up plans to purchase a house to give the kids more play space and he was going to move back to Canada permanently.
Now, his pain — as well as that of other victims’ families — is aggravated by the fact that Boeing has not fully and openly accept responsibility for all the deaths caused by those plane crashes.
“They have used the fallacy of the chain of events. They try to use so many semantics in their explanations of what happened, all in their effort to try and move away from addressing the root causes of the crashes,” he said.
“It’s appalling. It’s so disturbing that we live in a world where we have corporations that are run by individuals who do not care about the lives of human beings.”
Njoroge said the general public should pay attention to how Boeing is dealing with the issues of its 737 Max 8 aircraft, because if the issues being raised now are not properly addressed, it could result in another disaster.
“After the crash of Lion Air, that issue somehow disappeared from the public soon afterwards,” he said, noting Boeing was aware of the problems but did not quickly and properly rectify them.
Part of the reasons he and other people devastated by these crashes are speaking out now is because they don’t want it to be forgotten once again, he said.
“They took advantage of that silence to allow these planes to continue flying so that they can ramp up revenues and profits. They knew they were putting human lives at a significant level of risk.”
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Gilbert Ngabo is a breaking news reporter based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @dugilbo