LOS ANGELES (CN) - A Yemenia Airlines crash that killed 152 of 153 people on board was caused by a plane so dilapidated it was not allowed to fly in France, part of the airline's "incompetent, unfit, inexperienced ... reckless ... notorious history of poor maintenance on an epic scale," relatives of the dead claim in court.
Lead plaintiff Mohammed Youssouf Abdallah et al. sued International Lease Finance Corp. on Friday in Federal Court. The list of plaintiffs is 33 pages long. International Lease Finance is the only defendant.
The defendant owned the Airbus A310-300 aircraft and leased it to Yemenia Airlines. It crashed on June 30, 2009, on a flight from Sana'a, Yemen to Moroni, Comoros Islands. The flight originated in Paris on a different plane, because the "accident aircraft was barred from entering French air space due to serious and long-standing maintenance deficiencies," the plaintiffs say.
The only person who survived the crash into the ocean was a 14-year-old girl, plaintiff Bahia Bakari, who was found clinging to wreckage.
The families claim that International Lease Finance knew or should have known "that Yemenia Airlines was incompetent, unfit, inexperienced and/or reckless in its operation as an air carrier as evidenced by a long and notorious history of poor maintenance on an epic scale; poor pilot training; and total lack of compliance with minimum standards of safety at every level of the company, all of which did or should have constituted default of the lease".
The lawsuit lists a slew of Yemenia air-safety violations, including a plane that "landed on the proper runway, but in the wrong direction."
"Yemenia Flight IY 749 first flew from Paris to Marseille Southern France with approximately 67 passengers onboard," the complaint states. "The flight stopped in Marseille, where it took on additional passengers, then totaling approximately 100, before continuing to Sana'a, Yemen.
"After arriving in Sana'a, the passengers were caused to deplane and board another Yemeni aircraft, the accident aircraft, an older Airbus model A310-300, registered 70-ADJ. The change of planes was required because the accident aircraft was barred from entering French air space due to serious and longstanding maintenance deficiencies. To avoid the prohibition, Yemenia Airlines brought French and other passengers out of France on an aircraft permitted to fly in French airspace, to be then transferred in Sana'a, unbeknownst to them, onto the accident aircraft, an aircraft that was barred from traveling in their home countries."
The flight crashed into the Indian Ocean 8 miles short of the airport.
"The crash of Flight IY 626 was caused by the poor training, testing, and experience of its pilots, who literally got 'lost' over waters of the Indian Ocean, flew below recommended minimums for the approach path they were attempting to follow, became overwhelmed by their situation, and failed to respond to numerous automatic warnings generated by the aircraft, including, unfortunately, a warning that the aircraft was moving too slowly for its angle of attack and about to enter an aerodynamic stall," according to the complaint.
Plaintiffs seek damages for negligence, negligent entrustment, pain and suffering, lost earnings and loss of consortium.
They are represented by David Fiol with Brent, Fiol & Pratt.