July 13, 2024

Potential Criminal Charges Recommended Against Boeing Over 737 Max Crashes

US prosecutors have recommended criminal charges against Boeing, following claims of settlement violations related to two fatal 737 Max crashes that killed 346 people. The Department of Justice is set to decide by July 7.

Lion Air Boeing 737 Crash Aircraft

Image Source: China Daily

US prosecutors have advised the Department of Justice (DoJ) to pursue criminal charges against Boeing, alleging the company violated a settlement agreement linked to the deadly crashes of its 737 Max aircraft, which resulted in 346 fatalities.

Boeing, which has previously denied breaching the deferred prosecution agreement, declined to comment on the recommendation. The DoJ is expected to make a final decision by July 7, though details of potential charges remain undisclosed.

“This is a really critical decision that is coming up,” said Ed Pierson, executive director of the Foundation for Aviation Safety and a former senior manager at Boeing. He highlighted ongoing issues with Boeing’s 737 Max and 787 models, attributing them to leadership problems within the company.

The crashes, involving Indonesia’s Lion Air in October 2018 and Ethiopian Airlines in March 2019, led to a $2.5 billion settlement in 2021. Prosecutors had agreed to drop a criminal charge if Boeing complied with the agreement’s stipulations over three years. However, the DoJ recently accused Boeing of failing to maintain an effective compliance and ethics program to prevent fraud.

Relatives of the crash victims have called for a $25 billion fine and criminal prosecution against Boeing. This follows testimonies from whistleblowers who reported serious production issues with the 737 Max, 787 Dreamliner, and 777 models.

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun | Photo Source: Investopedia

Boeing’s outgoing CEO, Dave Calhoun, faced intense questioning from US senators, asserting that the company had “learned” from its mistakes and defending its whistleblower processes. Despite this, lawmakers criticized him for insufficiently addressing a culture of retaliation.

Calhoun, who took over from Dennis Muilenburg after the crashes, is set to step down at the end of 2024 with a $33 million pay package. Ed Pierson criticized these leadership changes as superficial, noting that Calhoun had been with Boeing for a decade before becoming CEO.

The ongoing scrutiny of Boeing comes amid broader concerns about the company’s production standards and corporate governance. Recent incidents, such as a door panel falling off a new 737 Max during an Alaska Airlines flight in January, have further highlighted the need for rigorous oversight. As Boeing prepares for leadership transitions and attempts to rebuild its reputation, the outcomes of the DoJ’s decision and subsequent actions will be pivotal in shaping the future of the company and ensuring the safety and confidence of air travelers worldwide.

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