Boeing to admit criminal fraud, pay $243M US fine for crashes

Boeing has agreed to plead guilty to a criminal fraud charge related to the two crashes of 737 Max jetliners that resulted in the deaths of 346 individuals, including several Canadians. The U.S. Justice Department announced the plea deal on Sunday, which still requires approval from a federal judge before taking effect. The agreement includes a $243.6 million US fine, an independent monitor to oversee safety procedures at Boeing, and a requirement for the company to invest at least $455 million US in compliance and safety programs.

The plea deal covers only the wrongdoing by Boeing before the crashes and does not provide immunity for other incidents, such as a recent panel blowing off a Max jetliner during an Alaska Airlines flight. This deal only applies to the corporation itself and not any current or former Boeing officials. The guilty plea will be entered in U.S. District Court in Texas, and the judge overseeing the case will have the option to accept or reject the agreement.

The Justice Department previously charged Boeing in 2021 for misleading regulators about a flight-control system implicated in the crashes. Following the grounding of Max jets for 20 months, Boeing made changes to the flight software and saw an increase in new plane orders in 2023. However, after a recent incident in January involving an emergency exit panel blowing off a Max during an Alaska Airlines flight, there has been closer scrutiny of the company.

Relatives of the Max crash victims have expressed disappointment in the plea deal, with some calling for criminal trials and prosecution of top Boeing officials. The outcome of this case could have significant implications for Boeing's status as a federal contractor, as well as its relationship with government agencies. CEO David Calhoun has defended the company's safety record and apologized to crash victims' families during a recent Senate hearing.


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