WASHINGTON - Two years ago today, 157 people were killed aboard Flight 302 heading from Ethiopia to Kenya when a Boeing 737 MAX jet crashed six minutes after takeoff, creating a fallout of events for the aerospace giant.
Five months prior to the March 10, 2019 crash, another Boeing 737 MAX jet crashed in the Java Sea 13 minutes after takeoff, killing 189 people on October 29, 2018.
Investigations revealed that a design flaw involving the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) of the MAX series is what caused the deadly crashes.
Investigators later learned that Boeing excluded the MCAS training from pilot manuals.
- After the second crash, all 737 MAX Jets were grounded worldwide. The planes remained grounded for nearly two years, only recently getting re-certified by the FAA to fly again.
- Families of the victims sued Boeing and in a separate lawsuit claimed collusion between Boeing and the FAA before the two crashes. That lawsuit claimed the FAA became too cozy with Boeing, leading to a lack of proper oversight in clearing the 737 MAX to fly. In the suit, one of the victims said that if Boeing and the FAA had done their jobs properly, "these planes would have been grounded in November and today I would be enjoying summer with my family, I would be playing football with my son."
- Boeing provided the money for a $50 million fund compensating families of the 346 people killed.
- In December of 2019, then-Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg stepped down from his role.
- Muilenburg testified to Congress that Boeing did, in fact, make mistakes on the 737 MAX jets. Muilenburg's testimony came as Boeing faced both a criminal probe by the U.S. Justice Department, the Senate Commerce Committee and the House Transportation Committee.
- In January 2021, the Justice Department charged Boeing with "conspiracy to defraud the United States" over the investigations into two deadly 737 MAX Jet crashes. The company agreed to pay $2.5 billion in penalties and compensation to resolve the criminal charges
Where we stand now
- Boeing named David Calhoun as the company's new chairman in October of 2019.
- Boeing has settled over 150 lawsuits filed by families of passengers killed in the two crashes
- In November 2020, nearly 20 months after the second crash, the FAA cleared Boeing 737 MAX Jets to fly again.
- Sales of new Boeing planes have plunged because of the MAX crisis and the coronavirus pandemic. Orders for more than 1,000 Max jets have been canceled or removed from Boeing’s backlog this year. Each plane carries a sticker price between $99 million and $135 million, although airlines routinely pay far less than list price.
- In March, Boeing Co. said it received more new orders than cancellations for commercial airplanes in February for the first time in 15 months.
- While several airlines have cleared 737 MAX jets back into their fleets, customers have the option to pick a different flight if they do not feel comfortable flying on a MAX.
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