737 Max crashes: Boeing in court on fraud charge
Source link On Thursday, Boeing Co. was hit with a massive $2.5 billion lawsuit by the U.S. Department of Justice over two fatal crashes caused by its 737 Max airplane, alleging that the aircraft manufacturer committed fraud by hiding the plane’s design flaws from regulators and customers. The lawsuit is the first criminal prosecution against the company in connection with the crashes, which killed all 346 people aboard Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopia Airlines Flight 302.
The government issued a criminal complaint accusing Boeing of misleading the Federal Aviation Administration and airlines regarding the design of the Max’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). The system, which is supposed to detect and correct the pitch of the plane in certain flight conditions based on inputs from two angle of attack (AoA) sensors, was identified as a cause of the crashes.
In the complaint, the government alleges that Boeing misled the FAA about “the capabilities, performance, and reliability of the MCAS system.” The government also claims that Boeing withheld safety-related technical information from the FAA and airlines about the MCAS limitations and potential hazards associated with it.
The complaint further alleges that Boeing covered up information by marking technical documents as “not for FAA review” and that it falsely claimed the system operated using inputs from only one AoA sensor instead of two, as it was designed to do.
If convicted of the charges, Boeing could face fines, restitution, and even imprisonment of its executives. The government’s case is based largely on emails, internal documents, and other evidence it received under a settlement with the company. The criminal investigation is ongoing, and the company is expected to face additional charges.
Boeing has denied any wrongdoing and responded to the lawsuit with a statement saying it “continues to cooperate and work with the Department of Justice,” and it “strongly disagrees with the DOJ’s position” and intends to defend itself by “mounting a vigorous defense.” The company has also launched its own internal investigation into the matter.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China has already imposed a $1.3 billion fine on Boeing for failing to properly disclose the risks associated with the Max’s MCAS system. The 737 Max has remained grounded since March of 2019, costing Boeing and its airline customers billions of dollars.
The lawsuit, which is the government’s first criminal prosecution of a major airplane manufacturer in nearly 40 years, is a significant step towards holding Boeing accountable for the tragic events that happened in 2018 and 2019. It also provides a sobering reminder of the real-world consequences of corporate negligence.