Eighty-three of the passengers who were on Asiana Airlines Flight 214 that crash-landed at San Francisco International Airport took steps to sue the aircraft's manufacturer, Boeing, a law firm representing the passengers announced Tuesday.
A petition beginning a lawsuit has been filed in Chicago, where Boeing is headquartered, according to a press release from the firm, Chicago-based Ribbeck Law Chartered. Papers will be filed in the coming days against Asiana Airlines and component part manufacturers, attorneys said.
The firm said information released so far on the investigation appeared to show "mechanical malfunction of the auto-throttle" may have caused the crash of the Boeing 777, which killed three passengers and injured more than 180. The lawsuit will also question whether evacuation slides inflating inward and seat belts trapping passengers furthered injuries, according to the statement.
The National Transportation Safety Board has said pilots told investigators they realized the approach speed was low and set the auto-throttle to correct it, but realized too late that the aircraft speed never increased.
One of the passengers represented by the firm is Zhang Yuan, who suffered severe spinal injuries and a broken leg, the firm said. "My husband, my daughter, other passengers and I would not have suffered such terrible injuries if the sliding ramps and the seat belts would not have trapped us in the burning wreckage," the firm quoted her as saying.
The firm said it had enlisted a former chief investigator with the Canadian Transportation Safety Board with 27 years of experience for the lawsuit.
[Updated, 1:20 p.m. July 16: Boeing released a statement the day after the July 6 crash, offering condolences for the deceased and saying the company had a technical team on site to assist the NTSB investigation. It referred all questions to NTSB.
Asiana Airlines and Boeing declined comment on Tuesday.]
The agency said in a statement that it closed its command post at the airport Monday as the inquiry "pivots this week from the on-scene phase."
Several NTSB teams involved in the investigation have returned to Washington, the agency said, though at least one remained Monday to complete interviews with first responders.
Investigators into the July 6 crash have spent hours talking to witnesses and the flight crew, as well as combing the wreckage, gathering recorders from the aircraft and studying the runway.
"The next phase of the investigation will include additional interviews, examination of the evacuation slides and other airplane components, and more in-depth analysis of the airplane's performance," the NTSB statement said.
The remnants of the Boeing 777 have been moved to a secured facility at the airport, should investigators need to reexamine anything, the NTSB said.
NTSB Chairwoman Deborah A.P. Hersman said last week that although the agency typically takes 12 to 18 months to complete its reports, she hoped the Asiana crash review would "get close to or under that 12-month mark."
"It's going to be a high priority for our agency," she said.
Boeing released a statement the day after the July 6 crash, offering condolences for the deceased and saying the company had a technical team on site to assist the NTSB investigation. It referred all questions to NTSB.
[For the record, 1:20 p.m. July 16: An earlier version of this article stated that the law firm took steps Tuesday to sue Boeing. The action was taken Monday, but announced on Tuesday. 3:30 p.m. July 16: A headline on an earlier version of this article noted that the law firm filed papers to sue Boeing. Although legal documents were filed that may pave the way for a lawsuit, no complaint has been filed.]