Justice Department says Boeing violated 2021 agreement on Max aircraft

The Justice Department said Tuesday that Boeing was in violation of a 2021 settlement related to problems with the company's 737 Max models that led to two fatal plane crashes in 2018 and 2019.

In a letter to a federal judge, the department said Boeing had failed to “design, implement and enforce” a compliance and ethics program to prevent and detect violations of US fraud laws in the company's operations. Creating that program was a condition of Boeing's settlement, which also included a $2.5 billion fine.

The Justice Department's decision opens the door to possible prosecution in a 2021 criminal charge accusing Boeing of conspiring to defraud the Federal Aviation Administration, although Boeing could appeal Tuesday's ruling.

In a statement, Boeing said the company believed it had respected the terms of the agreement, and said it looked forward to the opportunity to respond.

“As we do so, we will engage with the Department with the utmost transparency, as we have done throughout the term of the agreement,” Boeing said in its statement.

The Justice Department declined to comment. Paul G., an attorney representing families of victims of fatal plane crashes. Cassell said his clients were planning to meet with the government on May 31 to discuss next steps in the case.

When the government reached its settlement with Boeing in January 2021, many families of the crash victims said the Trump administration was too lenient on the plane maker.

“This is a positive first step and, for families, will be a long time coming,” Mr Cassell said. “But we need to see further action from the DOJ to hold Boeing accountable.”

The crashes of 737 Max 8 planes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed 346 people, prompting the FAA to ground the entire 737 Max fleet. An investigation found that both accidents involved the incorrect triggering of a maneuvering system designed to help avoid stalls in flight.

In another settlement, the Securities and Exchange Commission said Boeing had offered misleading assurances about the safety of the 737 MAX in public statements after both crashes, despite knowing that the maneuvering system posed an ongoing safety problem. .

The Justice Department reached its conclusion at a tumultuous time for Boeing, which has faced intense regulatory scrutiny since a door panel on a 737 Max 9 plane burst during an Alaska Airlines flight from Portland, Oregon, in January . In March, the company said its chief executive, Dave Calhoun, would step down at the end of the year, along with Stan Deal, head of the division that builds aircraft for airlines and other commercial customers.

Mr. Calhoun met Dennis A. He replaced Muilenburg, who led the company during the 2018 and 2019 crashes. Boeing fired Mr. Muilenburg, whose performance during the crisis angered lawmakers and alienated the families of victims.

mark walker Contributed to the reporting.

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