Lion Air Flight 610 crashed shortly after takeoff near Indonesia on October 29, 2018, while Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed near Ethiopia on March 10, 2019. In both cases the FAA AEG determined that the 737 Max aircraft maneuvering characteristic augmentation system (MCAS) activated during the flight and may have played a role in the accident.
Boeing admitted in court documents that it misled the FAA about the circumstances surrounding MCAS. Apparently, two of Boeing’s 737 Max technical flight pilots discovered a significant change in MCAS in November 2016, but the company chose to withhold the information instead of sharing it with FAA AEG when evaluating the new aircraft. As a result, the AEG did not mention the system in its report, and the aircraft manuals and pilot training materials lacked information on MCAS.
Acting Deputy Attorney General David P. Burns of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice said in a statement:
“The tragic crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 exposed fraudulent and deceptive conduct by employees of one of the world’s leading commercial aircraft manufacturers. Boeing employees have chosen the franchise profit path by withholding important information from the FAA regarding the operation of its 737 Max aircraft and engaging in an effort to cover up their deception. This resolution holds Boeing responsible for the criminal misconduct of its employees, addresses the financial impact on Boeing airline customers, and hopefully will provide some compensation to the families and beneficiaries of the crash victims.
Representative Peter DeFazio, the chairman of the House transport and infrastructure committee that oversaw the crash investigation, was not happy with the resolution, however. He said:
“[The] the settlement amounts to a slap on the wrist and is an insult to the 346 victims who have died due to corporate greed. Not only does the dollar amount of the settlement represent a mere fraction of Boeing’s annual revenue, but the settlement avoids any real liability in terms of criminal charges.
In addition to paying $ 2.5 billion, Boeing will have to continue to cooperate with the FAA’s fraud section for any ongoing and future investigations. It is also required to report any evidence of fraud committed by its employees or agents, and to submit annual reports to the fraud section regarding the status of its remediation efforts.