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Aircraft manufacturer in crisis: Boeing admits fraud before Max crashes

The two crashes of a Boeing 737 Max that killed hundreds of people are still affecting the US aircraft manufacturer years later. Now there is a new punishment and a government watchdog.

Boeing has pleaded guilty to defrauding the US government in order to avoid a trial over two fatal crashes involving 737 Max aircraft. This is according to a document from the US Department of Justice for the relevant federal court in Texas. The consequences are a new fine of millions and a government watchdog for the US aircraft manufacturer.

346 people were killed in the accidents in October 2018 and March 2019. Boeing had avoided prosecution at the time by promising, among other things, to implement a compliance and ethics program. The company also paid a fine of $243.6 million. The Justice Department concluded in May that Boeing had violated the terms of the deal at the time.

New investigations after dramatic incident in January

One trigger for this was the near-accident in January, when a fuselage fragment broke off a nearly new Boeing aircraft during a climb. Although no one was injured in the incident, it was also due to the fact that, by a lucky coincidence, the seats next to the hole in the fuselage were not occupied.

The crashes in 2018 and 2019 were caused by software on the aircraft that was intended to assist pilots, but interfered with the controls more than they expected. It steered the planes towards the ground – and the pilots of both planes were ultimately unable to align them again. Aircraft of this type were not allowed to fly for almost two years until the error in the software was fixed.

Boeing was subsequently accused of fraud in a criminal case because employees of the aircraft manufacturer had declared special training for the software to be unnecessary when the type was certified by US authorities.

According to court documents released late Sunday, Boeing will have to invest at least $455 million in compliance and safety programs after the guilty plea, among other things, and pay a further $243.6 million in fines. The agreement will not become effective until it is approved by the court in Texas where the case is pending.

Survivors demand harsher punishments

After such a turn of events had become apparent in recent weeks, families of the crash victims had sharply criticized the prospect of a new agreement with Boeing and demanded a billion-dollar fine. They are to be given a meeting with the Boeing Board of Directors. Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun apologized to the relatives a few weeks ago and emphasized that the company bears responsibility for the crashes.

Source: Stern

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