Boeing to pay $2.5B settlement in criminal investigation over safety of 737 Max

Boeing will pay $2.5 billion US to settle a criminal charge of defrauding safety regulators in connection with the development of the 737 Max aircraft, which suffered two deadly crashes.

The U.S. Justice Department said Thursday that Boeing agreed to the settlement, which includes money for the crash victims’ families, airline customers and airlines, as well as a fine.

The 737 Max entered service in 2017. On Oct. 29, 2018, a Max operated by Indonesia’s Lion Air plunged into the Java Sea. The Federal Aviation Administration let the Max keep flying. On March 10, 2019, another Max operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed nearly straight down into a field just a few minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa.

In both crashes, everybody on board was killed — 346 people in all.

Since then, Boeing has redesigned an automated flight-control system that pushed the noses of both planes down, in each case based on a faulty reading from one sensor. Boeing changed the system so that it always uses two sensors, along with other changes to make the automated system less powerful and easier for pilots to override.

In November, the FAA approved Boeing’s changes, and several carriers including American Airlines have resumed using the planes.

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