The US aircraft maker pleaded not guilty
Boeing, one of the world’s major aerospace manufacturers, is facing felony fraud charges in connection with two 737-Max jet crashes that occurred in Indonesia and Ethiopia in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
The two crashes killed 346 people, cost Boeing more than USD 20 billion, resulted in a 20-month suspension of the best-selling aircraft, and drove Congress to approve broad laws reforming airplane certification.
Last Thursday, the company faced families of those killed in the crashes in a Texas court. Boeing pled not guilty to charges of deceiving and misleading federal authorities over the safety of an automated flight control system that investigators said had a substantial role in the accidents.
The charges were brought to court when the victims’ relatives objected to an agreement reached between Boeing and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to avoid a trial after the company was charged with fraud. The agreement requires the business to pay the victims’ families a USD 2.5 billion settlement in 2021 and admit to deceiving the FAA about the system’s safety.
In 2021, the DOJ pledged to withdraw the charges after three years, if Boeing follows the terms of the agreement,
The families of the victims have complained that the agreement with the DOJ was a “sweetheart agreement” that violated their rights and allowed the company to dodge full culpability for their role in the incidents, according to the BBC.
These family members traveled from across the globe to speak about the effect of the crashes that claimed the lives of their spouses, children, siblings, and parents.
Paul Njoroge fought back tears as he described the loss of his wife, three children, and mother-in-law in the Ethiopian plane crash. His little child was just 9 months old.
He told the court, “I’ll never know what my children might have been.”
The allegations against Boeing were filed during the same week that the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued its final report on the Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 crash, stating that a bird attack was most likely a contributing cause.
The Board also disputed assertions of electrical failure in the Ethiopian Accident Investigation Bureau’s (EAIB) final report, which it says is not supported by evidence. It also “concurred with the EAIB’s analysis of the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) and related systems and the roles that they played in the accident,” according to the final report.
The faulty reading was caused by the separation of the left angle of attack (AOA) sensor vane, which failed owing to an impact with a foreign object, most likely a bird, according to the NTSB. They were dissatisfied, however, because their comments on the EAIB’s final draft were not properly appended to the final report, as they had desired.