Boeing to pay $2.5bn over 737 Max conspiracy

Boeing has agreed to pay $2.5bn (£1.8bn) to settle US criminal charges that it hid information from safety officials about the design of its 737 Max planes.

The US Justice Department said the firm chose “profit over candour”, impeding oversight of the planes, which were involved in two deadly crashes.

About $500m will go to families of the 346 people killed in the tragedies.

Boeing said the agreement acknowledged how the firm “fell short”.

Boeing chief executive David Calhoun said: “I firmly believe that entering into this resolution is the right thing for us to do – a step that appropriately acknowledges how we fell short of our values and expectations.

“This resolution is a serious reminder to all of us of how critical our obligation of transparency to regulators is, and the consequences that our company can face if any one of us falls short of those expectations.”

‘Fraudulent and deceptive conduct’

The Justice Department said Boeing officials had concealed information about changes to an automated flight control system, known as MCAS, which investigations have tied to the crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia in 2018 and 2019.

The decision meant that pilot training manuals lacked information about the system, which overrode pilot commands based on faulty data, forcing the planes to nosedive shortly after take-off.

Boeing did not co-operate with investigators for six months, the DOJ said.

But attorneys for the victims of the Ethiopian Airlines crash said the deal on Thursday would not end their pending civil lawsuit against Boeing.

“The allegations in the deferred prosecution agreement are just the tip of the iceberg of Boeing’s wrongdoing — a corporation that pays billions of dollars to avoid criminal liability while stonewalling and fighting the families in court,” said a statement from the group of lawyers representing them.

They added that the FAA “should not have allowed the 737 Max to return to service until all of the airplane’s deficiencies are addressed and it has undergone transparent and independent safety reviews.”

Boeing says it has now addressed concerns about the Max, while the plane returned to service in the US in December.

– BBC

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