US Prosecutors: DoJ SHOULD Charge Boeing For MAX Crashes

By Spyros Georgilidakis | June 24, 2024

The advice of US prosecutors to the DoJ (Department of Justice) is to criminally charge Boeing for its role in the 2018-19 737 MAX crashes.

We have seen that the US Department of Justice and the FBI, which is the DoJ’s investigative arm, were investigating this January’s 737 MAX-9 door plug blowout. This is because of a previous DoJ decision, which had attracted some controversy.

US Prosecutors: DoJ SHOULD Charge Boeing For MAX Crashes
Image: Boeing

In 2021, the DoJ and Boeing agreed on a $2.5 billion settlement, regarding the aircraft manufacturer’s role in the two 737 MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019. That $2.5 billion included $500 million to the 346 crash victims’ families and $1.77 billion as compensation to airlines and lessors.

To many, this Deferred Prosecution Agreement amounted to a slap on the wrist – especially since the $1.77 billion to the airlines was money that Boeing would likely have to pay anyway. The DoJ deal effectively shielded Boeing management from prosecution, too.

Boeing’s 737 factory in Renton. Photo: Jelson25, CC BY-SA 3.0

New 737 MAX Prosecution: The Options of the DoJ

However, the Deferred Prosecution Agreement was subject to multiple conditions, including steps that Boeing needed to take to address multiple safety concerns. And crucially, the agreement had a three-year duration, which expired two days AFTER the January MAX-9 blowout.

US Prosecutors: DoJ SHOULD Charge Boeing For MAX Crashes
Photo: NTSB

Boeing has stated that it has “honored the terms” of the Deferred Prosecution Agreement. The DoJ disagrees. Last week a DoJ representative stated that the department still hasn’t decided on whether or not to prosecute Boeing following last January’s 737 MAX accident.

Some previous reports indicated that the DoJ didn’t think that criminal prosecution over the Boeing 737 MAX crisis was an option. The same Department of Justice representative said that this is incorrect.

Photo: Steve Lynes, CC BY 2.0

It is still not clear what the next move of the department will be. A six-month deadline after the original probation period means that the DoJ has until the 7th of July to either prosecute Boeing or extend the original probation period.

The recommendation from US prosecutors for a criminal charge against Boeing was made public today (Monday). But it is unclear when they made it to the DoJ. In any case, the implications of such a charge are unpredictable.

In addition to higher monetary penalties, a felony conviction could jeopardize Boeing’s military contracts with the United States, according to Reuters. A criminal conviction could also put Boeing under long-term supervision by a third party, monitoring its activities.


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