Boeing Slapped With Huge Fine, Victims Say It’s Not Enough

[Cory Barnes from Vancouver, WA, United States, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons]

One of the country’s biggest and most controversial companies has been slapped with a large fine.

Over the past year, multiple whistleblowers who claimed Boeing was endangering the public have died, pointing to several “incidents” involving the company’s airplanes and their quality controls.

With doors flying off during a flight, bolts being loose, and wheels coming undone, Boeing has been faced with huge questions by federal leaders. The New York Times noted that “a six-week audit by the Federal Aviation Administration of Boeing’s production of the 737 Max jet found dozens of problems throughout the manufacturing process at the plane maker and one of its key suppliers.”

Now, the company may finally be facing the consequences. NPR reports that Boeing has been given a fine for its alleged mismanagement after two of the planes crashed, killing 346 people off the coast of Indonesia and in Ethiopia.

In a late Sunday night court filing, the DOJ said “the government and the Boeing Company have reached an agreement in principle on the terms of a proposed plea agreement.”

As part of the deal, Boeing agrees to pay a $243.6 million fine – adding to a previous $243 million fine the company already has paid. The plane maker will agree to invest “at least $455 million in its compliance and safety programs.” The company will also be put on probation and subject to an independent compliance monitor for three years.

This deal follows an earlier agreement between the DOJ and Boeing in 2021, when the company promised to make safety changes after the two overseas Max crashes. But prosecutors say Boeing did not hold up its end of the deal. In May, the federal government said Boeing “breached its obligations” under 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.”

That letter came just a few months after a door-plug panel blew off a 737 Max jet in midair in January. The incident involved Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 sparked renewed scrutiny of Boeing’s operations by federal regulators, as well as the Justice Department.

The Washington Post noted that those most affected by the Boeing crashes denounced the Department of Justice’s decision to accept the deal.

“Survivors of the victims of the 737 Max airliner crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia derided the plea agreement as a soft landing for the aerospace behemoth. Echoing a range of other critics, they argued that the deal fails to hold individual executives accountable while allowing Boeing to avoid a legal admission that its engineering and safety blunders caused the deaths.

‘They’re not trying to do anything in terms of justice, in terms of change, in terms of accountability,’ said Nadia Milleron, whose 24-year-old daughter perished in the Ethiopian Airlines crash in 2019, said of the deal. ‘They’re trying to move the case along.’

Members of the general public, she said, ‘don’t realize it’s a slap on the wrist. There’s no meaningful changes in terms of safety.’

The single count of fraud stems from an admission by the company that two of its employees misled the Federal Aviation Administration about the operation of an automated control system that was implicated in both crashes. The guilty plea follows a Justice Department finding in May that Boeing, by failing to strengthen internal systems to detect and report fraud, violated a 2021 deferred prosecution agreement that allowed it to previously avoid the charge.”

The families of the victims have a point.

Earlier in the year, Donald Trump was fined nearly half a billion dollars for an alleged fraud in which the purported victim, a bank, claimed that no fraud happened.

Furthermore, Alex Jones, the television and radio host who was found guilty of libel, was forced to pay $1.5 billion in damages to the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting.  

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