Boeing pleads not guilty in deadly Max crashes case
FORT WORTH: Boeing pleaded not guilty to a charge that it misled regulators who approved its 737 Max, the plane that was involved in two crashes that killed 346 people.
Family members of passengers who died gave emotional testimony, calling for criminal prosecution of top Boeing officials.
The families are trying to convince a federal judge to throw out a settlement that the company reached with the federal government to avoid prosecution. U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor took the plea from Boeing, which was represented by its chief safety officer and a bevy of lawyers, and ordered the company not to break any laws for the next year.
The judge delayed ruling on a request by the families to appoint a special monitor to examine safety issues at the aerospace giant. Boeing and the Justice Department opposed the request. Investigations into the 2018 and 2019 crashes pointed to a flight-control system that Boeing added to the Max without telling pilots or airlines. Boeing downplayed the significance of the system, then didn’t overhaul it until after the second crash.
The Justice Department investigated Boeing and settled the case in January 2021.
After secret negotiations, the government agreed not to prosecute Boeing on a charge of defrauding the United States by deceiving regulators who approved the plane.
In exchange, the company paid $2.5 billion — a $243.6 million fine, a $500 million fund for victim compensation, and nearly $1.8 billion to airlines whose Max jets were grounded.
The families are still stunned. “We want to see real justice, and that has to be prosecutions for manslaughter,” said Naoise Connolly Ryan, whose husband, Mick, was killed in the second crash.
Naheed Noormohamed, who lost his father, Ameen, on the same flight, said the Justice Department had failed the families by not considering their pain.
“This is not just a failure of justice, it’s a failure of humanity,” he testified. Some relatives showed pictures of their loved ones to the Boeing team.
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