Boeing To Pay $2.5 Billion Settlement Over Deadly 737 Max Crashes The airplane manufacturer admits deceiving regulators about the safety of a flight control system blamed in two crashes that killed 346 people. Critics call the settlement "a slap on the wrist."
NPR logo

Boeing To Pay $2.5 Billion Settlement Over Deadly 737 Max Crashes

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/954782512/954809103" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Boeing To Pay $2.5 Billion Settlement Over Deadly 737 Max Crashes

Boeing To Pay $2.5 Billion Settlement Over Deadly 737 Max Crashes

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/954782512/954809103" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Boeing settled a charge of criminal conspiracy related to two 737 Max plane crashes. The company will pay $2.5 billion without pleading guilty.

Here's NPR's David Schaper.

DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE: Federal prosecutors say key Boeing employees deceived safety regulators about a new flight control system on the plane that investigators say played a major role in both deadly crashes.

CARL TOBIAS: There's some really damning language in there about sacrificing safety, you know, for profit, basically.

SCHAPER: Carl Tobias is a law professor at the University of Richmond.

TOBIAS: It did not find widespread fraudulent behavior in the company. But these two central employees did engage, according to the government, in very bad conduct.

SCHAPER: Prosecutors say the deception by those two Boeing employees, quote, "impeded the government's ability to ensure the safety of the flying public." But by singling out just the two employees, critics say the Justice Department is letting Boeing off the hook.

PETER DEFAZIO: I find this fine to be inadequate given the egregious nature of the offense.

SCHAPER: Oregon Democrat Peter DeFazio chairs the House Transportation Committee, which found widespread evidence of management failures at Boeing. He calls the settlement a slap on the wrist and an insult to the 346 victims.

Twenty-four-year-old Samya Rose Stumo died in the Ethiopian Airlines crash in March of 2019. Her father is Michael Stumo.

MICHAEL STUMO: This is the Boeing protection agreement.

SCHAPER: Stumo points out that Boeing's criminal fine is just $243 million. Most of the rest, almost $1.8 billion, is compensation that Boeing has already agreed to pay airlines that purchase the 737 Max.

STUMO: There's nobody being held accountable personally.

SCHAPER: In a statement, Boeing CEO, Dave Calhoun, calls it a substantial settlement of a very serious matter that appropriately acknowledges how we fell short of our values and expectations.

David Schaper, NPR News.

Copyright © 2021 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.