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Tags: doj | boeing | blowout door | alaskaair | criminal

DOJ Probes Boeing Door Plug Blowout on Alaska Air Flight

By    |   Wednesday, 28 February 2024 07:57 PM EST

The Justice Department is examining a midair blowout of a Boeing Co. door plug on an Alaska Air flight last month, possibly exposing the company to criminal prosecution, according to a source familiar with the matter, reported Bloomberg Law.

The DOJ is reviewing whether this incident breaches the government's 2021 deferred-prosecution agreement with Boeing over previous fatal crashes of its 737 Max jetliner, the person said, requesting anonymity to discuss a confidential matter.

The source revealed that Boeing might face criminal liability if prosecutors find the door plug blowout violates the agreement.

Under the $2.5 billion settlement, Boeing pledged to implement a compliance program to prevent deceiving regulators like the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The agreement's term expired two days after the Alaska Air incident on Jan. 5.

The Justice Department's review involves the fraud section and the U.S. attorney's office in Seattle, close to Boeing's Renton production facility where the 737 model is assembled. Both Boeing and the Justice Department declined to comment.

Boeing revealed in a filing that the deferred prosecution agreement's reporting period ended in January. The Justice Department is evaluating whether Boeing met its obligations under the agreement and whether court approval is necessary to dismiss the matter.

Boeing has been under increased scrutiny since a fuselage panel covering an unused door detached from an Alaska Air Boeing 737 Max mid-flight. After a report highlighting safety culture deficiencies, the FAA gave Boeing 90 days to address "systemic" quality-control issues.

Investigators subsequently established that the jet was delivered, lacking four essential bolts to secure the door plug in position.

The 2021 deferred-prosecution agreement, announced during the Trump administration, drew criticism for absolving Boeing's senior executives of responsibility for the 737 Max crashes that claimed 346 lives. Of the settlement, only $243.6 million constituted a criminal penalty. $1.77 billion was allocated for reimbursing customers of the Max aircraft, while $500 million was designated for beneficiaries of victims.

Boeing previously faced a single criminal count for misleading regulators certifying the Max's design, focusing on actions of two former employees involved in pilot manual drafting. One, Mark Forkner, was charged with lying to the FAA but was acquitted after claiming scapegoating by Boeing.

Criminal charges resulting from aviation accident investigations in the U.S. are rare. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) primarily investigates accidents but lacks charge-levying power, while criminal authorities intervene only with evidence of intent.

A criminal probe could hinder the NTSB's investigation of the door plug incident, as witnessed in past transportation accident probes. The NTSB relies heavily on witness cooperation, potentially compromised during criminal investigations.

Boeing shares fell 1.9% in after-market trading.

Jim Thomas

Jim Thomas is a writer based in Indiana. He holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science, a law degree from U.I.C. Law School, and has practiced law for more than 20 years.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


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The Justice Department is examining a midair blowout of a Boeing Co. door plug on an Alaska Air flight last month, possibly exposing the company to criminal prosecution.
doj, boeing, blowout door, alaskaair, criminal
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2024-57-28
Wednesday, 28 February 2024 07:57 PM
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