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The US says Boeing violated a 2021 settlement. That doesn’t mean the company will face charges

The Justice Department’s determination that Boeing violated corporate probation for deceiving federal regulators does not necessarily mean federal prosecutors will revive criminal charges against the giant aircraft manufacturer.

But we should know within weeks whether Boeing will face another day in court.

The Justice Department said in a court filing Tuesday that Boeing had violated terms of a 2021 settlement that allowed it to avoid prosecution for actions that led up to two deadly crashes involving the company’s 737 Max jetliners more than five years ago.

Prosecutors indicated they haven’t decided what to do next. What follows is an explanation of the Justice Department’s options and other things to know about the case.


The Justice Department says Boeing failed to meet terms of the settlement, which required the company to set up and maintain a program to detect and prevent violations of U.S. anti-fraud laws. Notably, the government did not say whether Boeing actually committed any acts of fraud.


The crashes, which happened in Indonesia in 2018 and in Ethiopia in 2019, killed a total of 346 people. After the second one, the Justice Department investigated how Boeing convinced the Federal Aviation Administration to certify the 737 Max. Prosecutors determined that Boeing committed fraud against the United States by deceiving the FAA about elements of a key flight-control system that was later implicated in the crashes.

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