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Boeing buys its way out of prison with $2.5 billion for 346 737 MAX deaths

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Boeing is paying $2.5bn to settle criminal charges in the United States that it hid critical safety information from officials. None of the individuals involved will face prison time.

The agreement acknowledges that Boeing was fraudulent and deceptive in its communication with the FAA. Certification of the 737 MAX involved:

Boeing 737 MAX scimitar wingtip

“two of the Company’s 737 MAX Flight Technical Pilots deceiving the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aircraft Evaluation Group about an important aircraft part called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (“MCAS”) that impacted the flight controlsystem of Boeing’s 737 MAX.”

You can read our overview of the 737 MAX crashes, and why they happened, in this article.

Boeing has entered into a ‘Deferred Prosecution Agreement’ with the Department of Justice that will see it pay out $2.5 billion. You can see the full text of the agreement here.

The money will be split three ways:

  • Approximately $500m will go to the families of the 346 individuals who died in the two 737 MAX crashes
  • $243m is being charged as a “criminal monetary penalty”
  • $1.7bn will go to airline customers as compensation

It’s not clear whether this $1.7bn takes into account the compensation Boeing has already paid out to airlines who ordered the 737 MAX. On the face of it, it seems odd that the court should order additional compensation for the airlines which have already made private settlements with Boeing.

Boeing CEO David Calhoun said:

“I firmly believe that entering into this resolution is the right thing for us to do – a step that appropriately acknowledges how we fell short of our values and expectations.

“This resolution is a serious reminder to all of us of how critical our obligation of transparency to regulators is, and the consequences that our company can face if any one of us falls short of those expectations.”

It turns out those “consequences” only involve a monetary fine – met entirely by shareholders – with no criminal proceedings for the individuals involved in the fraudulent deception that lead to 346 deaths.

$2.5 billion is less than the $2.8 billion that the United States fined Volkswagen for the diesel emissions scandal which led to no direct deaths. It is far less than the $4 billion BP was fined for Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the associated deaths of 11 workers.

Comments (71)

  • MYSELF says:

    Ahhh ‘Merica the land of the free – if youre a big enough corporation with deep enough pockets and enough senators and members of Congress as ‘friends’ that is.

    Even the judgement amounts are sickening. multitudes more going to government coffers and airlines than the victims families coz obviously they’re more important than the families left behind. After all they’re mostly from non Western and poorer places in the world.

    If you want an example of things that make others think America is a corrupt and unjust self serving place then this outcome probably just smashed its way into the top ten list.

    That money saved also probably won’t be such a good deal when in 5-10-15 years the son of one of the victims plots and executes an attrocity on US soil to get the retribution they felt they were denied. Wouldn’t be the 1st time sadly but again the government got cut a big enough check so that’s what counts

    • Think says:

      That last para is pretty damn obvious.. But then the “war on Terror ” will just be ramped up, the arms profits will roll & everyone is happy. Unsustainable Logic uncle Sam..

  • QFFlyer says:

    “$2.5 billion is less than the $2.8 billion that the United States fined Volkswagen for the diesel emissions scandal which led to no direct deaths. It is far less than the $4 billion BP was fined for Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the associated deaths of 11 workers.”

    The cynic in me might see something in the US fining a US company much less than a German or British company…

  • cinereus says:

    Appalling and typical of both the industry and the government in question.

  • Waldo24 says:

    Totally sickening. Brilliantly illustrates the lack of humanity and more importantly the total lack of business and personal ethics and real justice that presently abounds within the United States. Corruption of the worst kind at the highest levels within the American “System” aided and abetted by the greed of self serving politicians with little sign of anything that will improve the situation.

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