FLYING Magazine

Boeing has until the end of the week to decide if it will accept a plea deal offered by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to resolve a criminal charge of fraud stemming from two 737 Max crashes that resulted in the deaths of 346 people.

On Sunday federal prosecutors met with attorneys representing the families of those killed. The plea agreement would include the appointment of an independent monitor to oversee the company’s progress on safety and quality improvements, a three-year probationary period, and a $244 million fine.

The deal also would require Boeing to admit to defrauding safety regulators, but it would not have to admit fault in the death of the 346 victims.

READ MORE: Boeing Crash Victim Families Seek $24.8B Fine From Company

Criminal charges stemming from the Max crashes have been on hold for nearly three years.

Mark Lindquist and Paul Cassell, two of the attorneys representing the families of the victims, said their clients were insulted by the plea deal and—citing the 2021 deferred prosecution agreement that allowed the aerospace manufacturer to avoid criminal charges—that the DOJ has been too lenient with Boeing.

The deferred prosecution agreement expired in January, two days after a Boeing 737 9 Max lost a door plug over Portland, Oregon, resulting in explosive decompression. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) preliminary investigation found four bolts designed to hold the door plug in place had not been installed at final assembly. At the expiration of the deferred prosecution agreement, the DOJ had six months to determine if Boeing had complied with the terms of the deal.

In May, the DOJ announced Boeing had violated the terms of the agreement, which meant federal prosecutors could pursue criminal charges. Boeing maintains it complied with the agreement.

FLYING reached out to Boeing, but the company did not respond to a request for comment.

READ MORE: FAA Head Vows Increase in Boeing Oversight

The company has until the end of the week to accept the plea deal.

If Boeing accepts the deal, the DOJ would notify a federal district judge in Texas, where the deferred prosecution agreement was signed. Judge Reed O’Connor will have to approve the deal in order for it to move forward. 

The families of the victims have asked federal prosecutors to appoint an independent monitor and fine Boeing $24.8 billion.

In 2021 as part of the agreement with the DOJ, Boeing paid $2.5 billion, of which $1.77 billion went to airline customers, $500 million in compensation to the families who lost loved ones, and a $244 million fine to the U.S. government for the criminal conduct.

The post DOJ Presents Boeing With Plea Deal in 737 Max Crash Cases appeared first on FLYING Magazine.

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