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Boeing’s possible plea deal over 737 Max crashes angers Indonesian families – BenarNews

Families of the 189 Indonesian victims of the October 2018 Boeing 737 Max plane crash are angry that the airline was able to evade criminal prosecution and accountability for this and another air disaster that killed 346 people.

The US airline had reached a deal with US prosecutors that would allow it to plead guilty to fraud and pay another fine if the deal were accepted by a district judge in the coming weeks, the Associated Press and National Public Radio reported.

Under the agreement, Boeing, a key defense contractor for the U.S. government, will plead guilty to criminal fraud during the certification process for the 737 MAX jets in 2017, before the two crashes. Boeing would also pay a $243.6 million fine and agree to invest at least $455 million in safety programs, the U.S. Justice Department said in a statement Sunday. presentation before the court.

Anton Suhadi, a spokesman for the Indonesian victims’ families, said that if Boeing were allowed to get away with it, it would send a dangerous message that corporate wrongdoing can be solved only by financial sanctions.

“I think it is very unfair that this is the only sanction for Boeing,” Anton told BenarNews.

“This is a serious crime that has caused the deaths of 189 victims,” ​​he said, referring to the accident off the coast of Indonesia.

On Wednesday, Indonesia’s transport ministry said it would strengthen its oversight in light of Boeing’s admission to ensure the planes are safe.

“The Department of Transportation urges Boeing to immediately restore public confidence,” it said in a statement.

“This is essential considering that Boeing has faced a crisis of confidence regarding its safety record since the two crashes of the 737 Max aircraft.”

Indonesian company Lion Air Flight 610A Boeing 737 Max 8 took off from Jakarta bound for the mining region of Pangkal al Pinang on 29 October 2018. Minutes after takeoff, the pilot asked to return to the airport and then the plane lost radio contact with the control tower.

About 11 minutes after takeoff, the plane, carrying six crew members, 178 adult passengers, one child and two infants, plunged into the Java Sea. All on board, most of them Indonesians, were killed.

Indonesia experienced a boom in low-cost airlines after the aviation industry was deregulated in the early 2000s. This rapid expansion raised concerns about safety oversight and pilot training, contributing to the country’s poor air safety record at the time.

In 2007, the European Union banned all Indonesian airlines from operating in its airspace following a series of fatal accidents. Although some airlines, including flag carrier Garuda, were removed from the list in 2009 after demonstrating improvements, the ban was not fully lifted until 2018.

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Wreckage and other items recovered from the ill-fated Lion Air flight JT 610 are seen at a search and rescue operations centre at a port in North Jakarta, on October 30, 2018. (Adek Berry/AFP)

Just five months after the Lion Air crash, another Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, operated by Ethiopian Airlines, crashed six minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa bound for Nairobi on 10 March 2019. All 149 passengers and eight crew members on board were killed.

Investigators determined that both crashes were linked to a faulty flight control system, known as MCAS, and other factors. MCAS repeatedly pushed the nose of the planes down, causing the pilots to lose control of the aircraft, investigators said.

One year after the Lion Air crash, Indonesia National Transportation Safety Committee The committee concluded that a design flaw and the pilot’s lack of guidance about the 737 Max 8’s flight system were contributing factors to the disaster. The primary problem was the MCAS, which malfunctioned, the committee said.

The pilots on the Ethiopian Airlines flight were apparently aware of the MCAS problem, but were unable to control the aircraft. After that crash, authorities around the world grounded what had become Boeing’s best-selling plane.

According to the United States Department of Justice 2021 DeclarationBoeing has admitted in court documents that it misled the country’s federal aviation evaluators about issues related to MCAS. That deception led to manuals for 737 MAX aircraft, including those of U.S. airlines, containing no information about MCAS.

The crashes and subsequent grounding of the 737 Max fleet raised serious concerns about corporate accountability, regulatory oversight and the prioritization of profits over safety.

‘Face the consequences’

Vivian Hasna, 23, was a passenger who died on the Lion Air flight.

Her mother, Neuis, questioned why Boeing did not remove the plane from service immediately after discovering the defects, instead of waiting for another tragedy to occur: the Ethiopian crash.

“I am a mother who lost her daughter. It is very sad, especially because I cannot visit my daughter’s grave, I cannot pay my respects because her body was never found,” she told BenarNews.

“Those found guilty must face the consequences, according to the law.”

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