Massive penalties demanded for Boeing: The consequences of the 737 Max tragedies

Boeing 737 Max (Photo: Jan Gruber).
Boeing 737 Max (Photo: Jan Gruber).

Massive penalties demanded for Boeing: The consequences of the 737 Max tragedies

Boeing 737 Max (Photo: Jan Gruber).
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The tragedies surrounding the crashes of two Boeing 737 Max aircraft in 2018 and 2019 have far-reaching consequences, which have now culminated in a demanding response from the victims' relatives. They are demanding that the US government take tough criminal action against the aircraft manufacturer. The bereaved families' lawyer, Paul Cassell, described Boeing's failure as "the deadliest corporate crime in US history" and demanded billions in penalties.

In a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice, Cassell called for a fine of up to $24,78 billion on behalf of the bereaved families. This immense sum is intended not only to reflect the immense loss and suffering of the families, but also to signal the need to hold Boeing accountable. Cassell suggested that a large portion of the fine - between $14 billion and $22 billion - could be suspended on the condition that Boeing invests those funds in independent inspections and safety improvements.

The relatives also demanded that the Boeing board meet in person with the families of the victims and that the company representatives responsible at the time of the crashes be prosecuted. These demands are intended to ensure that those responsible are not only held financially accountable, but also personally responsible for the tragic incidents.

Historical failures and current challenges

The Boeing 737 Max crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia claimed nearly 350 lives and led to groundings for this aircraft type worldwide. These disasters revealed significant deficiencies in the aircraft's design and safety monitoring, particularly related to the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), which played a key role in both crashes.

The revelations following the crashes painted a shocking picture of internal miscommunication and a lack of safety culture at Boeing. Investigations by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other international regulators led to sweeping changes in certification processes and unprecedented scrutiny of Boeing's practices.

Boeing’s reactions and measures

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun expressed his remorse before a US Senate committee and promised comprehensive improvements. "Our culture is far from perfect, but we are taking action and making progress," said Calhoun. He apologized to the victims' families and emphasized Boeing's commitment to increased safety and transparency.

But recent technical problems with Boeing aircraft, including an incident earlier this year in which a door plug broke off during a flight, have further shaken confidence in the brand. The FAA responded to this incident by temporarily banning the affected 737 Max aircraft from flying and increasing surveillance.

Legal consequences and future prospects

The U.S. Department of Justice had already found in May that Boeing had violated a 2021 deferred prosecution agreement. Boeing denied this, but federal prosecutors have until July 7 to present plans to the court on how to proceed. This could include continuing the criminal case or negotiating a settlement.

The demands of the bereaved and the ongoing technical problems continue to put pressure on Boeing. It remains to be seen whether the drastic measures demanded by the relatives will be implemented and whether Boeing can implement the necessary changes to regain the trust of the public and regulators.

The tragedies of the Boeing 737 Max crashes have not only caused immeasurable human suffering, but have also exposed significant deficiencies in the safety culture and practices of one of the world's largest aircraft manufacturers. The calls for tough penalties and comprehensive reforms send a clear signal that those responsible must be held accountable and that aviation safety must be a top priority.

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