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US offers Boeing plea deal over deadly crashes – media

Two accidents involving the company’s top-selling 737 MAX jet killed 346 people 

The US Department of Justice will allow Boeing to avoid a criminal trial if the aerospace giant agrees to plead guilty to a fraud charge related to two fatal crashes involving its 737 Max aircraft over half a decade ago, people familiar with the matter have told Bloomberg.

The plane manufacturer will decide whether to accept the plea deal by the end of the week, sources said, citing DOJ officials’ conversations with relatives of the victims and their attorneys.

Two separate Boeing 737 Max 8 crashes, one involving Lion Air and the other Ethiopian Airlines, occurred in a span of less than five months between 2018 and 2019, leaving 346 people dead.

Under the plea deal, the aircraft producer will reportedly be fined $243.6 million on top of the $243.6 million it paid as part of a 2021 deferred-prosecution agreement. The agreement would also impose an obligatory independent monitor to audit Boeing’s safety and compliance practices for three years.

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The offer from the DOJ is a “sweetheart plea deal,” according to Paul Cassell, a lawyer representing the crash victims’ families.

“The deal will not acknowledge, in any way, that Boeing’s crime killed 346 people,” the attorney said in an email, as cited by Bloomberg. “The families will strenuously object to this plea deal.”

In 2021, Boeing agreed to pay over $2.5 billion as part of an agreement with the DOJ after the company admitted to deceiving the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) about an obscure flight control system linked to the crashes. In both cases, faulty sensor readings caused the 737 Max 8 jets to enter a nosedive. If Boeing had complied with the deal, the charge would be dropped after a period of three years, which would have expired in July of this year.

In May, federal prosecutors accused Boeing of violating the terms of the agreement, claiming the company failed to set up sufficient compliance measures. In June, the company said it disagreed with the prosecutors’ assessment, claiming that it had not violated the deal.

July 01, 2024 at 03:32PM

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