FORTWORTH, Texas – boeing Thursday he pleaded not guilty to charges that he deceived regulators into approving his 737 Max, the airplane involved in two crashes that killed 346 people.
Family members of the deceased passengers gave emotional testimony, seeking criminal prosecution from top Boeing officials.
The families are trying to get a federal judge to kick out a settlement that the company contacted the federal government to avoid prosecution.
US District Judge Reed O’Connor upheld the appeal by Boeing, which was represented by its chief safety officer and a bevy of attorneys, and ordered the company not to break any laws for the next year.
The judge delayed ruling on the families’ request to appoint a special monitor to look into safety issues at the aerospace giant. Boeing and the Justice Department objected to the request.
Accident investigations in 2018 and 2019 pointed to a flight control system that Boeing added to the Max without telling pilots or airlines. Boeing downplayed the system’s importance, so didn’t overhaul it until after the second crash.
The Justice Department investigated Boeing and settled the case in January 2021. After secret negotiations, the government agreed not to prosecute Boeing on allegations that it defrauded the United States by deceiving regulators that approved the aircraft . In return, the company paid $2.5 billion: a $243.6 million fine, a $500 million victim compensation fund, and nearly $1.8 billion to airlines whose jets Max were grounded.
Families are still amazed.
“We want to see real justice, and this has to be a wrongful death trial,” said Naoise Connolly Ryan, whose husband, Mick, was killed in the second crash.
Naheed Noormohamed, who lost his father, Ameen, on the same flight, said the Justice Department let the families down by not considering their grief.