The problems for Boeing are not over now that the 737 MAX has flown again. The company has been officially charged with criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States. The U.S. Department of Justice has imposed a $2.5 billion fine that Boeing has agreed to pay for lying to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration about the two fatal accidents in 2018 and 2019 of its planes.
The Department of Justice has announced the charges and the total amount of the fine, as well as how that money will be distributed. The $2.5 billion includes first a criminal penalty of $243.6 million. On the other hand, $1.77 billion will go to the airlines that have used the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. Finally, the remaining $500 million will go into a fund to help the families of people who suffered one of the two fatal accidents in 2018 and 2019.
What exactly is Boeing accused of? Of lying. Lying to the U.S. FFA by giving “misleading statements, half-truths and omissions” by Boeing to regulators. In doing so, the prosecutor says, he impeded “the government’s ability to ensure the public’s safety.
The Justice Department is referring in large part to a major omission about MACS, something Boeing has admitted in court. Two of its Technical Flight Pilots 737 MAX misled the FAA about the operation of the MACS system. Because of this, the FAA lacked all the information about the operation of this system that was key in the two accidents, and this information was also omitted from the aircraft and pilot manuals.
Tragic years for Boeing
The Boeing 737 MAX began development in 2011 and by 2017 had been approved for operation by the FAA. Approved, of course, without knowledge of the inconsistencies in the MACS system. A year later, in October 2018, the first fatal accident occurred with the Boeing 737 MAX. In March 2019 the second one occurred and this caused that automatically all 737 MAX in the world were suspended until the problem was found and solved.
Almost two years later, Boeing has succeeded. With not one but several errors found after extensive testing and analysis, the Boeing 737 MAX is once again safe to fly. The economic costs however are being incredibly high for the American company and the airlines that bought the plane at the time. The current pandemic situation that has paralyzed half the world is not helping the recovery either.