New York, United States:
US prosecutors fined Boeing $ 2.5 billion to settle charges the company used to defraud regulators over the 737 MAX, the Justice Department said Thursday.
Boeing reached a deferred law enforcement arrangement related to the company’s statements to regulators about its issues with the MAX, which was suspended for 20 months after two fatal crashes and was only recently cleared for return to heaven.
The public prosecutor described Boeing’s failures as withering and accused the company of putting “profit over openness” and engaging in “half-truths” and “cover-ups”.
The DOJ accused Boeing of withholding information about the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), an anti-stall system that was a major factor in Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes that killed 346 people.
Boeing has shared vital information about MCAS with the Federal Aviation Administration through two MAX pilots, the DOJ said.
This omission meant that the FAA did not mention MCAS in its final certification report for the MAX, so there was no reference to the system in manuals and training materials for pilots.
After the Lion Air crash in October 2018, the FAA learned “for the first time” important details about the MCAS, “which Boeing has withheld from the FAA,” the DOJ said.
And two pilots at Boeing “continued to mislead others – including Boeing and the FAA – about their prior knowledge of switching to MCAS,” the DOJ said.
Regulators grounded the MAX in March 2019 after a second fatal accident.
Both Boeing and FAA have undergone intensive scrutiny because they failed to ground the plane after the initial disaster and because critics described it as a lax oversight when the plane rolled out.
The DOJ said the size of the penalty reflected Boeing’s behavior, including the company’s initial reluctance to collaborate on the investigation.
Boeing’s cooperation “was delayed and only began after the fraud department’s investigation into the first six months. During that time, Boeing’s response thwarted the fraud department’s investigation,” the DOJ said.