Boeing to pay $2.5 billion to settle 737 Max jet criminal charges

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Boeing will pay $2.5 billion to settle a criminal charge of defrauding safety regulators in connection with the development of the 737 Max aircraft, which suffered two deadly crashes in 2018 and 2019 that killed everyone aboard the doomed jets.

The Justice Department said Thursday that Boeing agreed to the settlement that includes money for the crash victims’ families, airlines and airline customers, as well as a fine.

The 737 Max entered service in 2017. On October 29, 2018, a Max jet operated by Indonesia’s Lion Air plunged into the Java Sea just 13 minutes after takeoff. 

The Federal Aviation Administration let the Max keep flying, and five months later, another Max operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed nearly straight down into a field after takeoff, as a result of the same malfunctions in the Boeing 737 Max 8 jet’s flight-control system.

In both crashes, everyone on board was killed — 346 people in all.

Boeing 737 Max returning to the sky after fat… 01:41

Since then, Boeing has redesigned the faulty automated flight-control system that pushed the noses of both planes down, in each case, based on an erroneous reading from an exterior sensor. Boeing changed the system so that it always uses two sensors, along with other changes to make the automated system less powerful and easier for pilots to override.

In November 2020, the FAA approved Boeing’s changes, and several carriers, including American Airlines, have recently resumed using the planes.

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