08 January, 2021

$2.5 BILLION Boeing to pay to settle criminal charges over the 737 MAX conspiracy

Photo Sky News
The US planemaker Boeing has agreed to pay $2.5billion that's approximately £1.8 billion in settlement of criminal charges that it concealed information from safety officials over the design and systems of its 737 Max aircraft.

The US Justice Department contested the manufacturer chose "profit over candour" and willfully impeding oversight of the aircraft which were involved in two deadly crashes, killing more than 360 people. They said Boeing had hidden information about changes to the aircraft's automated flight control system, known as MCAS, which led to those crashes in 2018 and 2019.

Chasing the dollar over safety meant pilot training manuals didn't have information on MCAS in them, a system that overrode pilot commands based on faulty data, forcing the planes to nosedive shortly after take-off.

The Department of Justice also confirmed that Boeing did not co-operate with investigators for six months. 

Acting Assistant Attorney General David Burns said: "The tragic crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 exposed fraudulent and deceptive conduct by employees of one of the world's leading commercial airplane manufacturers.

Boeing's employees chose the path of profit over candour by concealing material information from the FAA concerning the operation of its 737 Max airplane and engaging in an effort to cover up their deception."

The firms chief executive David Calhoun said: "I firmly believe that entering into this resolution is the right thing for us to do - a step that appropriately acknowledges how we fell short of our values and expectations.

"This resolution is a serious reminder to all of us of how critical our obligation of transparency to regulators is, and the consequences that our company can face if any one of us falls short of those expectations."

According to this agreement Boeing was charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the US, which will be dismissed after three years if the firm continues to comply with the deal.
Photo  Lindsey Wasson

You may think that $2.5 Billion is a big deal and will help rebuild the lives of those families who lost loved ones in the crashes, but it won't,  only around $500 million is scheduled to be paid to the families of those that lost their lives in what were avoidable crashes.  

$1.77 billion is to go to Boeing 737 MAX customers - most of which have already had compensation over the almost two-year grounding of the aircraft. And, Boeing has also agreed to pay a penalty of over $243 million. 

There will be some that feel Boeing has paid up in order to close the door on the last two years as quickly as possible so it can go back to selling the troubled jets that still can't fly outside of the Americas. That they are paying up now, a lesser amount than they could have faced and so more revelations over poor safety standards do not come out.  Some will also feel that the company has gotten off relatively lightly. 

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