Boeing Accepts DOJ's So-Called 'Sweetheart Deal'

Aircraft manufacturer will avoid a criminal trial over 737 Max crashes
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 8, 2024 2:00 AM CDT
Boeing Accepts DOJ's So-Called 'Sweetheart Deal'
A Boeing 737 MAX aircraft is shown on the assembly line during a brief media tour at the Boeing facility in Renton, Wash., Tuesday, June 25, 2024.   (Jennifer Buchanan/The Seattle Times via AP, Pool)

Boeing will plead guilty to a criminal fraud charge stemming from two crashes of 737 Max jetliners that killed 346 people after the government determined the company violated a 2021 settlement agreement that had protected it from prosecution for more than three years, the Justice Department said Sunday night. Federal prosecutors gave Boeing the choice last week of entering a guilty plea and paying a fine as part of its sentence or facing a trial on the felony criminal charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States. Prosecutors accused the American aerospace giant of deceiving regulators who approved the airplane and pilot-training requirements for it. The plea deal, which still must receive the approval of a federal judge to take effect, calls for Boeing to pay an additional $243.6 million fine, the AP reports.

That was the same amount it paid under the 2021 settlement that the Justice Department said the company breached. An independent monitor would be named to oversee Boeing's safety and quality procedures for three years. The deal also requires Boeing to invest at least $455 million in its compliance and safety programs. The plea deal covers only wrongdoing by Boeing before the crashes, which killed all 346 passengers and crew members aboard two new Max jets. It does not give Boeing immunity for other incidents, including a panel that blew off a Max jetliner during an Alaska Airlines flight in January, a Justice Department official said. The deal also does not cover any current or former Boeing officials, only the corporation. (Families of the crash victims are said to vehemently oppose the "sweetheart" deal.)

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