Boeing accepted a guilty plea over the crashes

The Decree of the Boeing Flight Simulator after the January 1, 2019 Blast-off of a 737 Max, Flight 1282, Jet

The agreement allows Boeing to avoid a trial after the Justice Department found the company had violated a former settlement that previously shielded it from prosecution. In 2021, Boeing entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the DOJ over the crashes and was fined $2.5 billion. Boeing will spend at most $450 million on compliance and safety programs under the new agreement, as well as up to $482 million in additional penalties. The company is going to be under court supervision for three years, according to a court filing.

That letter came just a few months after a door-plug panel blew off a 737 Max jet in midair in January. The incident involved Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 sparked renewed scrutiny of Boeing’s operations by federal regulators, as well as the Justice Department.

Federal prosecutors had met several times with family members of the victims who have pushed for stiffer fines and more penalties for the Boeing. The government admitted in a court filing that some families objected to the terms of the plea offer.

The two crashes were fatal and killed more than 300 people. The planes malfunctioned because of software that was intended to correct for a design flaw — and that software, called MCAS, relied on just a single external sensor for its data. Boeing didn’t tell the FAA, airlines, or pilots about the MCAS until after the 737 Max was launched. The pilots were fighting against the software when they went down and probably didn’t know it.

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