Boeing Breached 2021 Settlement Related to Fatal Max 8 Crashes, Justice Department Says

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The Justice Department has determined that Boeing violated the terms of its deferred prosecution agreement related to the Max 8 fatal crashes. It’s unclear whether the DOJ will now pursue a criminal prosecution into the plane maker.

Federal prosecutors have found that Boeing violated the terms of its 2021 deferred prosecution agreement related to the Max 8, the aircraft that was tied to two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019. 

“Boeing is subject to prosecution by the United States for any federal criminal violation,” federal prosecutors wrote in a letter to Northern Texas District Judge Reed O’Connor on Tuesday. 

However, the Justice Department wrote in the letter that it is still “determining how it will proceed in the matter.”

The letter said Boeing breached the obligations of the agreement by “failing to design, implement, and enforce a compliance and ethics program to prevent and detect violations of the U.S. fraud laws throughout its operations.”

Boeing confirmed that it received the DOJ letter and said it believes it has “honored the terms of the agreement. The plane maker has 30 days to respond to the DOJ’s letter. 

In January 2021, Boeing reached an agreement with the DOJ to pay $2.5 billion to avoid criminal prosecution. The DOJ investigation at the time found that Boeing concealed certain information related to the Max 8. 

The DOJ said Boeing admitted in court that its technical pilots had “deceived” the Federal Aviation Administration about flight control software in the Max 8, which ultimately led to the fatal Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes. 

The DOJ also recently opened a probe into Boeing after the Alaska Airlines incident, where a door plug suddenly blew off a Max 9. It’s unclear whether that incident could have violated Boeing’s deferred prosecution agreement, since it occurred just days before the agreement expired in January. 

Boeing has been under increasing federal scrutiny ever since the Alaska incident. The National Transportation Safety Board is currently investigating the matter, and senators have called for the plane maker’s CEO to testify in Congress. 

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