Boeing to Admit Guilt in Fraud Case Related to 737 MAX Crashes

Boeing will pay a $243.6 million fine for its role in the fatal 737 MAX crashes, the Department of Justice has announced.

Boeing has agreed to plead guilty to criminal fraud charges related to the deadly crashes of its 737 MAX aircraft, the Department of Justice has said.

Two separate Boeing 737 MAX planes crashed in Indonesia and Ethiopia within five months of each other between 2018 and 2019, resulting in the deaths of 346 people.

According to court documents filed by prosecutors on Sunday, Boeing will pay a fine of $243.6 million to settle the US government’s investigation. As part of the agreement, the aircraft manufacturer has also pledged to invest at least $455 million over the next three years to enhance its safety and compliance programs.

An independent monitor will be appointed to oversee Boeing’s compliance and issue annual public progress reports, according to the filing. The company will be on probation for this three-year period.

As part of the agreement, Boeing board members will also meet with relatives of those killed in the 737 MAX crashes. The plea agreement requires approval from the federal judge overseeing the case, Reed O’Connor.

A Boeing spokesperson confirmed to the media that the company had “reached an agreement in principle on terms of a resolution with the Justice Department.”

This agreement avoids a trial for the aircraft manufacturer, which was demanded by the victims’ families. However, it will classify Boeing as a convicted felon, potentially impacting its ability to secure contracts with US government agencies, such as the Department of Defense and NASA.

In 2021, Boeing agreed to pay over $2.5 billion, including the initial $243.6 million fine, as part of a deferred-prosecution agreement with the Department of Justice. The company admitted to deceiving the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) about a specific flight control system linked to the crashes. Faulty sensor readings caused both 737 MAX 8 jets to enter a nosedive. If Boeing had adhered to the agreement, the charges would have been dropped after three years.

However, federal prosecutors accused Boeing of violating the terms of the agreement in May, alleging that the company had failed to implement promised compliance measures. These accusations followed an incident in January, when a door blew off a 737 MAX operated by Alaska Airlines during mid-flight.