Boeing is trying to settle the case of the fatal crashes of one of its aircraft, the 737 MAX. Accused by the American Financial Markets Constable (SEC) of having publicly issued several messages affirming, despite these two accidents, that this model presented no risk, Boeing agreed on Thursday, September 22 to pay 200 million dollars.
Responsible at the time for these messages, the former general manager of the company, Dennis Muilenburg, for his part agreed to pay a million dollars in penalties.
It is mainly a problem with flight software, MCAS, which caused a Lion Air 737 MAX in October 2018 and then a similar Ethiopian Airlines aircraft in March 2019 to dangerously lose altitude without the pilots not manage to fix them. The crashes left 346 dead and grounded the 737 MAX for 20 months.
"After the first crash, Boeing and Muilenburg knew MCAS was a safety concern, but nevertheless assured the public that the 737 MAX was 'as safe as any aircraft that has ever flown in the sky'"remark the SEC in a statement.
"Later, following the second accident, Boeing and Muilenburg assured the public that there had been no slippages or gaps in the MCAS certification process, despite being aware of reports to the contrary. »adds the agency.
US Aviation Authority Misled
Boeing had already admitted in January 2021 that two of its employees had misled a group from the American aviation authority in charge of preparing pilot training for MCAS software. The aeronautical giant then agreed to pay more than $2.5 billion to settle certain lawsuits – including a criminal fine of 243.6 million, 1.77 billion in compensation for the airlines that ordered the 737 MAX and 500 million for a fund intended to compensate the relatives of the victims.
The SEC found that Boeing and Mr. Muilenburg had violated stock market laws by misleading investors. If they agreed to pay a penalty, the group like the ex-manager neither admits nor denies the conclusions of the agency, specifies the press release.
“In times of crisis and tragedy, it is especially important that publicly listed companies and their managers provide full, fair and truthful information to the markets. The Boeing Company and its former boss, Dennis Muilenburg, failed in this most basic obligation.SEC Chairman Gary Gensler commented in the statement.
The SEC notably accuses Boeing of having issued a press release, annotated and approved by Mr. Muilenburg, one month after the Lion Air accident, highlighting only certain passages of a report from the Indonesian authorities suggesting that the pilot and a poor maintenance were to blame.
The document also failed to mention an internal assessment that MCAS posed well. “an air safety problem” and that Boeing had already started working on modifications to fix it.
Six weeks after the Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed, Muilenburg also told analysts and reporters that there were no surprises in the MCAS certification process and that Boeing had checked have followed all the regulatory steps. Documents later showed that Boeing had already identified problems in the process.
The deal with the SEC "is part of the company's broader efforts to responsibly resolve outstanding legal issues related to the 737 MAX accidents in a manner that best serves the interests of our shareholders, employees and other stakeholders"said a Boeing spokesperson. The group has, since 2019, “made big and deep changes” in order to “strengthen security processes and oversight of security issues”he added.