Boeing will admit fraud charges to avoid criminal trial over 737 Max crash that killed 346 people

Boeing aircraft will plead guilty to criminal fraud in connection with two 737 Max jet crashes that killed 346 people after the government determined the company breach of an agreement This has shielded the company from prosecution for more than three years, the Justice Department said Sunday night.

Federal prosecutors have handed Boeing option The final week is to plead guilty and pay a fine as part of his sentence or face trial on a criminal charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States.

Prosecutors allege the US aerospace giant deceived regulators who approved its aircraft and pilot training requirements.

The request for resolutionThe settlement, which still must be approved by a federal judge to take effect, requires Boeing to pay an additional $243.6 million in penalties. That’s the same amount it paid under the 2021 settlement, the Justice Department said. The company has violatedAn independent monitor will be appointed to oversee Boeing’s safety and quality processes for three years. The deal also requires Boeing to invest at least $455 million in its safety and compliance programs.

The plea deal covers only Boeing’s wrongdoing before the crashes that killed all 346 passengers and crew members on two new Max jets. It does not give Boeing immunity for other incidents, including a board blow away Max jetliner on an Alaska Airlines flight in January, a Justice Department official said.

The settlement also does not include any current or former Boeing officials, only the company. In a statement, Boeing confirmed that it had reached a settlement with the Justice Department but had no further comment.

In a court filing Sunday evening, the Justice Department said it expected to file a written plea agreement with the court by July 19. Attorneys for some relatives of those killed in the two crashes said they would ask the judge to reject the agreement.

“This sweet deal fails to recognize that 346 people died because of Boeing’s conspiracy. Through the legal machinations between Boeing and the DOJ, the deadly consequences of Boeing’s crimes are being hidden,” said Paul Cassell, an attorney for some of the families.

Federal prosecutors allege Boeing committed a conspiracy to defraud the government by misleading regulators about a flight control system involved in the crashes. in Indonesia in October 2018 and in Ethiopia less than five months later.

As part of the January 2021 settlement, the Justice Department said will not prosecute Boeing faces charges if the company complies with certain conditions for three years. Prosecutors last month accused Boeing of violating the terms of that agreement.

The company’s guilty plea will be entered in U.S. District Court in Texas. The judge overseeing the case, who criticized what he called “Boeing’s Serious Offense,” could accept the plea and sentence offered by prosecutors or he could reject the deal, potentially leading to new negotiations between the Justice Department and Boeing.

The incident harks back to the crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia. The Lion Air pilots in the first crash were unaware of flight control software that could have pushed the plane’s nose down without their intervention. The Ethiopian Airlines pilots knew about it but were unable to control the plane when the software activated based on information from a faulty sensor.

The Justice Department charged Boeing in 2021 with misleading FAA regulators about software that was not included in older 737s and about the level of training pilots needed to fly the planes safely. But the department agreed not to prosecute Boeing at the time if the company paid a $2.5 billion settlement, including a $243.6 million fine, and took steps to comply with anti-fraud laws within three years.

Boeing, where to blame two junior staff for misleading regulators, trying to ignore the crashes. After grounding the Max planes for 20 months, regulators allowed them to fly again after Boeing reduced the capabilities of its flight software. The Max has logged thousands of safe flights, and airline orders have surged, rising to about 750 in 2021, about 700 in 2022 and nearly 1,000 in 2023.

The Arlington, Virginia-based company has dozens of airline customers around the world. Top 737 Max customers include Southwest, United, American, Alaska, Ryanair and flydubai.

That changed in January, when a shield covering an unused fire exit blow away a Max on an Alaska Airlines flight over Oregon.

The pilots landed the 737 Max safely and no one was seriously injured, but the incident has led to increased scrutiny of the company. The Justice Department has opened a new investigation, The FBI told passengers on an Alaska flight that they may have been the victim of a crime and the FAA said it increased monitoring of Boeing.

A criminal conviction could jeopardize Boeing’s status as a federal contractor, some legal experts said. The brief released Sunday does not address that question, leaving the decision on whether to ban Boeing to individual government agencies.

The Air Force cited a “compelling national interest” in allowing Boeing to continue competing for the contract after the company paid a $615 million fine in 2006 to settle criminal and civil charges, including allegations that it used information stolen from a competitor to win the launch contract.

The company has 170,000 employees and 37% of its revenue last year came from US government contracts. Much of it is defense work, including military sales contracts that Washington arranges for other countries.

Boeing is also building a capsule for NASA. Two astronauts will stay on the International Space Station longer than expected while Boeing and NASA engineers troubleshoot the problem. problem with propulsion system used to control the capsule.

Even some Boeing critics are concerned about undermining a key defense contractor.

“We want Boeing to succeed,” Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, said at a Senate hearing last month about what he called the company’s broken safety culture. “Boeing needs to succeed for the sake of the jobs they provide, for the sake of the local economies they support, for the sake of the American traveling public, for the sake of our military.”

Relatives of Max crash victims have pushed for a criminal trial that could shed light on what Boeing insiders knew about deceiving the FAA. They also want the Justice Department to prosecute senior Boeing officials, not just the company itself.

“Boeing has paid fines multiple times and nothing seems to have changed,” said Ike Riffel of Redding, California. whose son Melvin and Bennett died in the Ethiopian Airlines crash. “When people start going to jail, that’s when you’re going to see change.”

Recently Senate hearingBoeing CEO David Calhoun has defended the company’s safety record after turning around and apologising to relatives of Max crash victims sitting in the row behind him “for the pain we caused”.

Hours before the hearing, the Senate investigative subcommittee released a 204 page report with new allegations from a whistleblower who said he was concerned that defective parts could be put into 737 seconds. The whistleblower is the latest in a series of current and past cases Boeing employee Those who raised concerns about the company’s safety and claimed they faced retaliation for it.


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