More than a dozen relatives of passengers on the Boeing 737 Max that crashed in 2019 in Ethiopia made no secret when they testified about their loss.
FORT WORTH, Texas — Boeing pleaded not guilty on Thursday to allegations of fraud in an unusual case in which the families of passengers killed in two plane crashes were trying to reach a settlement. settlement agreement reached by the company to avoid prosecution.
At a hearing dominated by emotional, painful testimony from passengers’ relatives, a federal district judge accepted the plea and ordered Boeing not to break any laws for the next year.
The judge delayed ruling on the families’ request to appoint a special supervisor to examine safety issues at the aerospace giant. Boeing and the Justice Department objected to the request.
More than a dozen relatives of passengers on the Boeing 737 Max that crashed in 2019 in Ethiopia — less than five months after the Max crashed in Indonesia — made no secret when they testified about their loss.
Boeing’s aerospace safety chief and lawyers for the company and the Justice Department sat just a few feet away but did not respond to any of the stories.
The Justice Department investigated Boeing after the second Max crash and settled the case in January 2021. With the settlement, the government agreed not to indict Boeing on charges of defrauding the United States by deceiving other companies. the regulatory body approved the aircraft. In return, the company paid $2.5 billion, including a $243.6 million fine.
Families are still in shock.
Naoise Connolly Ryan, whose husband was aboard the second Max, said: “We want to see real justice, and that has to be a manslaughter prosecution.
Naheed Noormohamed, who lost his father on the same flight, said the Justice Department had let families down by not caring about their grief.
“This is not just a failure of justice, but a failure of humanity,” he testified.
The fate of the settlement may depend on Judge Reed O’Connor. He paved the way for families to challenge the settlement with a ruling last November that the Justice Department violated federal law by not consulting crime victims before reaching an agreement. Admit.
The families have asked O’Connor to rescind part of the settlement that granted Boeing immunity from prosecution. They want that so they can lobby the Justice Department to rescind the deal and prosecute the company. The judge did not rule on that request.
The families also asked the judge to impose as many conditions on Boeing as possible on any criminal defendants in the charge process.
Boeing and the Justice Department have jointly opposed two of the proposed conditions: special oversight and the appointment of three passenger advocates who will report publicly to the company.
The Arlington, Virginia-based company and government attorneys said such steps were unnecessary because Boeing followed the terms of the settlement, known as the deferred prosecution agreement, in two years.
Mark Filip, a lawyer for Boeing, said government oversight of the deal was “robust” and working. Another Boeing attorney, Benjamin Hatch, said the company and Justice Department representatives meet at least monthly: “It’s a very real oversight.”
Boeing has faced civil lawsuits, congressional investigations and massive damage to its business since crashes in 2018 and 2019, killing a total of 346 people.
The first Max passenger flight took place in 2017. The first crash occurred in October 2018 in Indonesia and then another in March 2019 in Ethiopia.
Before both crashes, an automated flight control system that Boeing did not initially disclose to airlines and pilots pushed the plane’s nose down based on faulty sensor readings. Boeing blamed two former employees for misleading the Federal Aviation Administration about the system, known by the acronym MCAS.
One of those ex-employees, a test pilot, is the only person charged in connection with Max. A jury in O’Connor’s courtroom declared him innocent last year.
https://www.king5.com/article/news/nation-world/boeing-arraignment-two-max-jet-crashes/507-a448d481-9887-48e0-963d-427ebe9402b2 Boeing to be arraigned on charges for two Max jet crashes