Leading aircraft maker Boeing will pay USD 2.5 billion to settle a long-pending investigation with the Justice Department after its employees misled regulators about the safety of its 737 Max aircraft, which suffered two deadly crashes shortly after entering airline service. The government and the company said Thursday that the settlement includes money for the crash victims’ families, airline customers and a fine.
Boeing admitted in court filings that two of its technical pilot experts deceived the FAA about a flight-control system called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, that could point a plane’s nose down if sensors indicated the plane might be in danger of an aerodynamic stall that it might fall from the sky.
Boeing began working on the Max in 2011 as an answer to a new, more fuel-efficient model from European rival Airbus. However, Boeing downplayed the significance of MCAS and didn’t mention it in airplane manuals. Most pilots didn’t know about it.
The first airlines began flying the 737 Max in mid-2017. On Oct 29, 2018, a Max operated by Indonesia’s Lion Air plunged into the Java Sea. The FAA let the Max keep flying, and on March 10, 2019, another Max operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed nearly straight down into a field. In all, 346 people were killed.
On both flights, MCAS was activated by a faulty reading from a single sensor. The system repeatedly pushed the planes’ noses down, and pilots were unable to regain control. Under the settlement announced, Boeing will pay a USD 243.6 million fine, USD 1.77 billion in compensation to airlines that were unable to use their Max jets while they were grounded, and USD 500 million into a fund for the families of passengers who were killed in the crashes.
Boeing said it would take a $743.6 million charge against its fourth-quarter 2020 earnings to reflect the deferred prosecution agreement, a form of corporate plea bargain. Boeing had put aside reserves of $1.77 billion in prior quarters to provide for compensation to airlines.
The government will drop the criminal charge of conspiracy to defraud the US after three years if Boeing follows the terms of the settlement.
Artical By Indian Avaz