737 Max: Boeing avoids US criminal proceedings by paying millions

346 people died in two Boeing 737 Max aircraft crashes in October 2018 and March 2019. The main cause is the faulty MACS control software. Boeing had misled the FAA about important changes, whereupon MACS was not mentioned in the pilot’s manuals. Still, Boeing is most likely getting around a fraud process.

Because the US prosecutor and Boeing have agreed to postpone the trial. Boeing admits guilt and pays a fine of $ 243.6 million (the equivalent of around 198 million euros). The company is providing $ 500 million (406 million euros) for payments to the survivors of the victims.

In addition, the aircraft manufacturer undertakes to compensate airlines with a total of 1.77 billion dollars (1.44 billion euros) for the fact that they were unable to use their 737 MAX aircraft for a long time. In March 2019, authorities around the world imposed flight bans on Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9. In December 2020, Boeing 737 Max were able to take off again after the mandatory break. If Boeing does not commit further relevant offenses in the next three years, the criminal process will be suspended forever.

“The misleading statements, half-truths and omissions conveyed by Boeing employees to the FAA have hampered the agency’s ability to ensure the safety of the flying public,” said US Attorney Erin Nealy Cox on Thursday when the agreement is announced. According to this, two chief pilots of the 737-MAX project learned about changes at MACS in November 2016, but they have kept it a secret from the FAA.

As a result, the FAA removed all information about MACS from their Flight Standardization Board report on the aircraft type. However, this report was the basis for the manuals and training documents for US pilots of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 9. Thus, they were clueless about the properties of the MACS and how to react to problems.

The prosecution also criticized Boeing for having “frustrated” the criminal investigation for half a year. Only then did the company cooperate and voluntarily offer documents and witnesses.

The procedure is called USA v. The Boeing Company and is pending in the US Federal District Court for North Texas under Ref. 4: 21-CR-005. In theory, the judge could reject the joint prosecutor’s and Boeing’s motion, but this happens extremely rarely. Boeing’s two chief pilots have not yet been charged.


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