Boeing was ordered to pay $2.5 million to settle the investigation of two deadly air crashes run by the Justice Department. The company will also admit that there were misleading by employees to the regulators about the safety of its 737 Max aircraft.
According to the prosecutors, Boeing deliberately gave misinformation about the safety issues of their planes to the Federal Aviation Administration and they also tried to conceal their faults.
The acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s criminal division, David Burns said that the company chose profit over safety.
The pilots who were in charge of deciding the time length of training were blamed for the incidents by Boeing. The CEO of the company David Calhoun said their acts as Boeing employees did not project the image of the whole company.
The government is willing to drop the charges against Boeing after three years if they agree to the terms of the settlement.
Apart from the criminal charges brought by the government, there are still several lawsuits against Boeing by the families of the victims. After the crashes and the criminal charges, the company lost over 1000 orders for the Max.
The company started the max project in 2011 to come up with a better fuel-efficient model than European Airbus. Boeing agreed to the charges that the FAA was misled by two of its technical pilots about the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). This system caused the plane’s nose to pointing downwards if the sensors picked up the danger of falling from the sky.
The MCAS was not mentioned in the Max manuals so the pilots did not even know about it when they flew the planes.
The Max crafts started flying around October 2017. The first incident occurred when Indonesia’s Lion Air’s 737 Max crashed into the Java Sea on October 29, 2018. Another Max plane of Ethiopian Airlines also crashed into a field on March 10, 2019, and 346 people died.
Both crashes occurred because the MCAS became activated due to a faulty reading from a single sensor. The pilots could not control the planes as the system forced them to go down.
After the incident, the Max aircraft were grounded. The company made changes in the MCAS, making it use two sensors instead of one. They also took some power off the automated system, allowing the pilots to override easily. The FAA included some other changes like altering some wiring so there are no scopes for short-circuiting.
After the FAA permitted the changes made by the company in November, American Airlines and some other airlines began using their planes again.
As per the settlement, Boeing is ordered to pay $1.77 billion in compensation to airlines that could not use the planes as they were grounded, $243.6 million in fines and $500 million to a fund for the families of the crash victims.
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