Boeing will plead guilty in investigation of two fatal crashes

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jul8,2024
Key Points
  • Boeing has agreed to plead guilty to a criminal fraud conspiracy charge
  • The US Department of Justice investigation was linked to two fatal 737 MAX crashes that killed 346 people.
  • The plea has been criticised as a “sweetheart deal” by some of the victims’ families.
Boeing has agreed to plead guilty to a criminal fraud conspiracy charge to resolve a US Department of Justice investigation linked to , a US government official said on Sunday.
The plea, which requires the approval of a federal judge, would brand the plane manufacturer a felon. Boeing will also pay a criminal fine of US$243.6 million ($360 million), a US Justice Department official said.
The charge relates to two 737 MAX crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia over five months in 2018 and 2019 that killed 346 people and prompted the families of the victims to demand that Boeing face prosecution.

A guilty plea potentially threatens the company’s ability to secure lucrative government contracts with the US Defence Department and NASA, although it could seek waivers.

Boeing became exposed to criminal prosecution after the Justice Department found in May that the company violated a 2021 settlement involving the crashes.
The plea spares Boeing a contentious trial that could have exposed many of the company’s decisions leading up to the fatal MAX plane crashes to even greater public scrutiny.
It would also make it easier for the company, which will have a new CEO later this year, to try to move forward as it seeks approval for its planned acquisition of Spirit Aerosystems, a manufacturer of parts for commercial planes.
A Boeing spokesperson confirmed it had “reached an agreement in principle on terms of a resolution with the Justice Department.”
Boeing has agreed to invest at least $US455 million ($673 million) over the next three years to strengthen its safety and compliance programs.

The Department of Justice will appoint a third-party monitor to oversee the firm’s compliance, which will have to publicly file annual reports on the company’s progress with the court.

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Boeing will also serve a probationary period, during which it commits to not violate any laws, until the end of the monitor’s three-year term.
After being briefed on the Department of Justice’s offer, lawyers for some of the families criticised it and have vowed to oppose it in court.
“The families intend to argue that the plea deal with Boeing unfairly makes concessions to Boeing that other criminal defendants would never receive and fails to hold Boeing accountable for the deaths of 346 persons,” they said in a separate court filing.
A panel blew off a new 737 MAX jet on 5 January this year on an Alaska Airlines flight and Boeing now faces a separate ongoing criminal probe into this incident.

The Department of Justice agreement only covers Boeing’s conduct before the fatal crashes and does not shield the plane manufacturer from any other potential investigations or charges related to the January incident, or any other conduct.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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