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Boeing accepts plea deal with DOJ to avoid trial over 737 Max plane crashes

The aviation giant agreed to plead guilty to a criminal fraud charge stemming from two separate 737 Max plane crashes in 2018 and 2019 that killed 346 people.
Boeing CEO Senate
Posted at 8:32 AM, Jul 08, 2024

Boeing will avoid going to trial after accepting a plea deal Sunday with the U.S. Department of Justice.

The aviation giant agreed to plead guilty to a criminal fraud charge stemming from two separate 737 Max plane crashes in 2018 and 2019 that killed 346 people. In the deal, Boeing also agreed to pay a fine of over $243 million and must invest more than $450 million into safety and compliance programs.

The plea agreement still requires approval before it can take effect. However, families of crash victims are urging a federal judge to reject the agreement, calling it a "sweetheart deal."

Related story: Boeing reports possible falsified records to FAA

Paul Cassell, an attorney representing Boeing crash victims' families, said, "Boeing has committed the deadliest corporate crime in U.S. history, killing 346 people. And then on top of that, as if that were not enough already, Boeing has breached its obligations to improve its safety culture."

Cassell penned a letter to the DOJ urging it to act.

"[Boeing has] been given three years to clean up its act, so to speak, and it's failed to do that. So it is time for criminal prosecution to move forward, aggressively," Cassell said.

Federal prosecutors accused Boeing of conspiring to deceive regulators by misleading them about flight-control systems that were added to its 737 Max planes without notifying pilots or airlines. Boeing initially downplayed the significance of the system and then didn't overhaul it until after the second crash in 2019.