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737 MAX: Key Dates in US Criminal Case Against Boeing

July 9, 2024
Here are key dates in the U.S. Department of Justice's ongoing criminal case against Boeing over its 737 MAX airplane following deadly crashes in 2018 and 2019.

Here are key dates in the U.S. Department of Justice's ongoing criminal case against Boeing over its 737 MAX airplane following deadly crashes in 2018 and 2019.


- October 29: A 737 MAX operated by Lion Air crashes into the Java Sea about 12 minutes after taking off from Jakarta, Indonesia, killing all 189 people on board.


- March 10: A 737 MAX operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashes about six minutes after taking off, killing all 157 people on board.

- April 4: Boeing acknowledges that flaws with a software program called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) played a role in the crashes.


- September 16: A U.S. congressional investigation of the MAX crashes points to "repeated and serious failures" by the company and air safety officials that involved "faulty technical assumptions by Boeing's engineers, a lack of transparency on the part of Boeing's management and grossly insufficient oversight by the Federal Aviation Administration."


- January 7: The Department of Justice (DOJ) announces a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with Boeing in which the planemaker agrees to pay $2.5 billion in fines and restitution and upgrade its compliance and quality control efforts. The agreement is designed to expire in three years if Boeing meets the conditions.


- March 18: The DOJ begins a trial of former Boeing pilot Mark Forkner, who was accused of misleading U.S. aviation regulators during the MAX certification process. Forkner, the only Boeing official charged with a crime, was acquitted five days later.


- January 26: In line with the DPA, Boeing pleads not guilty to a fraud charge at a federal hearing in Texas, as families of MAX victims argue the DPA should be revised and bolstered in light of what attorneys for the victims called the "deadliest corporate crime in U.S. history."

- February 10: U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor rejects arguments to strengthen the DPA, concluding the "court lacks statutory authority to supervise, or substantively review" the settlement between Boeing and DOJ.


- January 5: A panel on the fuselage of a recently delivered Boeing 737 MAX blows out during an Alaska Airlines flight, resulting in an emergency landing and heaping scrutiny back on Boeing.

- May 14: The DOJ concludes that Boeing flouted its obligations under the 2021 DPA, opening up the company to possible prosecution. Boeing defends itself, saying it believes it is compliant with the agreement.

- June 12: Boeing responds to the DOJ, officially contesting the finding that it violated the 2021 accord.

- June 30: DOJ representatives brief families on a new proposed plea agreement that includes a guilty plea from the company.

- July 7: Boeing accepts "an agreement in principle" with the DOJ to plead guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States. A finalized plea deal is to be filed in federal court by July 19.

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