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BOEING: Pleading guilty to criminal conspiracy

BOEING: Pleading guilty to criminal conspiracy

Aircraft manufacturer Boeing has agreed to plead guilty to a felony charge of criminal conspiracy to defraud the US. The agreement has been reached after the Justice Department found that Boeing had not kept faith with an earlier settlement following the two fate crashes of its 737 MAX aircraft.

If the agreement goes forward, Boeing will pay a criminal fine of US$487.2 million, the maximum allowed by law.

Under the proposed agreement, Boeing will be subject to a corporate monitor and must spend a minimum of US$455 million on compliance and safety programs over the next three years. It would also be on probation for three years.

Virgin Australia 737-8 MAX in Seattle ready for delivery to Australia
Boeing MAX-8 ready for delivery to Virgin Australia in Seattle.

Guilty plea

Boeing’s once proud reputation as an engineering and safety-led company has been severely challenged in recent years. The guilty pea represents a real low point. Boeing is effectively admitting that it has made some grave errors, which resulted in the deaths of 346 people in two 737 MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019.

Last June 2024, Boeing expressed to prosecutors its disagreement with the previous finding that it had violated the pre-existing deal. In May of this year, the Justice Department found that Boing had breached a 2021 deferred prosecution agreement, arrived at during the Trump administration.

a man sitting in an airplane
Alaska Airlines 737 MAX incident from Twitter (X) @petemuntean

Under that deal, Boeing paid US$243.6 million, and agreed it had misled the US Federal Aviation Administration about its flight control software that has been linked to the crashes. The agreement was that charges would be withdrawn after three years if the aircraft manufacturer complied.

The families of the crash victims were not happy with the agreement at the time, and they are also not happy with this deal.

a close up of a machine
Image purported to be of Door Plug with loose screws discovered on inspection of a 737 MAX 8 [@ByERussell/2PAXfly]

2PAXfly Takeout

Boeing is in considerable turmoil at the moment. In fact, the middle door of a 737 MAX 9 blew out just a few days before the 2021 deal was about to expire.

Executives have been in turmoil, and the company is searching for a new CEO. Finances are also bearing the brunt of the company’s aircraft production slowdown. That slowdown came after the January MAX 9 door incident.

And that’s not the end of it. Boeing faces a wide range of other inquiries. Some examples are those from the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Congress, and a Washington State grand jury.

Boeing’s woes are not the only reason there is a current shortage of commercial aircraft. But the aircraft manufacturers troubles is a significant contributing factor.

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