UPDATED 9:26 AM PT – Friday, January 8, 2021
Airplane manufacturing giant Boeing has agreed to pay $2.5 billion to resolve the investigation into the two deadly 737 MAX jet crashes in 2019. The settlement, announced Thursday, includes $1.7 billion in compensatory payments to Boeing customers and creates a $500 million fund for the families of the 346 crash victims.
“I’m grateful and humbled to be here today and to be able to say these words to the families directly, and I want to convey our absolute commitment to safety, our commitment to learning, our commitment to rebuilding the public’s confidence in what we do,” stated Dennis Muilenburg, then-President and CEO Boeing. “And to preventing accidents like this from ever, ever happening again.”
The settlement also includes a criminal penalty of over $240 million after Boeing was charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States. In a statement announcing the deal, the Department of Justice said, “Boeing’s employees chose the path of profit over candor by concealing material information from the FAA.”
Boeing Charged with 737 Max Fraud Conspiracy and Agrees to Pay over $2.5 Billion https://t.co/Vvliny87I2
— Justice Department (@TheJusticeDept) January 7, 2021
Boeing admitted in court documents that two of its 737 MAX flight technical pilots deceived the Federal Aviation Administration about MCAS, which is a key safety system that was tied to both fatal crashes.
The fatal incidents led to the plane’s grounding for 20 months in March 2019 with officials promising it would not be lifted until after Boeing made significant safety upgrades.
“The FAA and I in particular, will not approve the plane for return to passenger service until I’m satisfied that we’ve adequately addressed all of the known safety issues that played a role in the tragic loss of 346 lives aboard Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302,” said Steve Dickson, Chief of the Federal Aviation Administration.
While Boeing agreed to the settlement, it will not be forced to plead guilty to the criminal charges.