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Friday,  July 19, 2024 5:56 PM 

Boeing to plead guilty to criminal fraud charge stemming from 737 MAX crashes

  • Air
  •   07-08-2024  6:57 am
  •   Pax Global Media

Boeing to plead guilty to criminal fraud charge stemming from 737 MAX crashes
Boeing's company office in Pleasanton, California. (Shutterstock/Michael Vi)
Pax Global Media

Boeing will plead guilty to a criminal fraud conspiracy charge stemming from two crashes of 737 MAX jetliners that killed 346 people after the U.S. government determined the company violated an agreement that had protected it from prosecution for more than three years, the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) revealed Sunday night (July 7).

The DOJ also said the aircraft manufacturer has also agreed to pay a criminal fine of $243.6 million (USD).

However, the families of the people who died on the flights five years ago have criticized it as a "sweetheart deal" that would let Boeing to avoid full responsibility for the deaths.

READ MORE: Boeing crash families demand $25bn fine, prosecutions

The next step is for the settlement to be approved by a U.S. judge.

By pleading guilty, Boeing will avoid the spectacle of a criminal trial, which is something families of the victims have been pushing for.

Two separate (but similar) crashes

It all goes back to two 737 MAX aircraft that crashed in separate but almost identical accidents.

In Oct. 2018, all 189 people on a Lion Air flight died after their Boeing aircraft crashed into the Java Sea 13 minutes after take-off from Jakarta.

In March 2019, an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed six minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa. All 157 onboard were killed.

Both deadly crashes were linked to faulty flight control systems.

As previously reported, the families of the victims have asked for a fine of $24.8 billion and that the company be prosecuted as a result of “the deadliest corporate crime in U.S. history.”

A company in crisis

It’s all just another chapter in Boeing’s poor safety record. The company has been in crisis since the crashes of 2018 and 2010, which led to global grounding of planes for more than a year.

In 2021, prosecutors charged Boeing with one count of conspiracy to defraud regulators, alleging a cover up regarding its MCAS flight control system, which was said to be the cause of both crashes.

READ MORE: Bolts were missing from Alaska Airlines door: U.S. investigators

At the time, the company acknowledged in a settlement that it had mislead air-safety regulators about aspects of the plane and promised to create a new compliance system to detect and prevent fraud.

A door panel of a Boeing-made plane, operated by Alaska Airlines, blew out shortly take-off in January. (Shutterstock/Robin Guess)

It was agreed to not prosecute Boeing if the company paid a penalty and completed three years of increased monitoring and reporting.

But scrutiny returned in January, shortly before that three-year period was due to end, after a door panel of a Boeing-made plane, operated by Alaska Airlines, blew out shortly take-off, forcing the jet to make an emergency landing.

Boeing's latest decision accept a plea deal will result in the company, one of the world's two largest manufacturers of commercial jets, having a criminal record, the BBC reports.

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