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Boeing's 'Slap on the Wrist' for 737 Max Debacle: $2.5B

Company will avoid criminal charges from DOJ if it adheres to terms of settlement
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 8, 2021 9:38 AM CST

(Newser) – Boeing will pay $2.5 billion to settle a Justice Department investigation and admit that employees misled regulators about the safety of its 737 Max aircraft, which suffered two deadly crashes shortly after entering airline service. Under the settlement announced Thursday, Boeing will pay a $243.6 million fine, $1.77 billion in compensation to airlines that were unable to use their Max jets while they were grounded, and $500 million into a fund for the families of passengers who were killed in the crashes, per the AP. The government will drop the criminal charge of conspiracy to defraud the US after three years if Boeing follows the terms of the settlement. Boeing still faces dozens of lawsuits from the families of passengers who died in the crashes.

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The first airlines began flying the 737 Max in mid-2017. The Federal Aviation Administration let the Max keep flying after 189 died on Oct. 29, 2018, when a Max operated by Indonesia's Lion Air plunged into the Java Sea. Then, on March 10, 2019, another Max operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed, killing 157. Prosecutors said Boeing employees gave misleading statements and half-truths about safety issues with the plane to the FAA then covered up their actions. "Boeing's employees chose the path of profit over candor," said David Burns, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's criminal division. House Transportation Committee Chair Peter DeFazio said the settlement amounted to "a slap on the wrist" for a company the size of Boeing. "I hope the DOJ can explain its rationale for this weak settlement to the families," he noted, adding it "will do little to deter criminal behavior going forward."

(Read more Boeing stories.)

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