US prosecutors have advised the Department of Justice (DoJ) to bring criminal charges against Boeing, following claims that the aircraft manufacturer violated a settlement agreement related

to two fatal 737 Max crashes that resulted in the deaths of 346 people.

Boeing declined to comment when approached by the BBC but has previously denied breaching the deferred prosecution agreement. The DoJ has until July 7 to decide on whether to prosecute the company and has also declined to comment.

According to CBS, the BBC's US partner, the recommendation is not a final decision, and details of any potential criminal action remain unknown. Ed Pierson, executive director of the Foundation for Aviation Safety and a former senior manager at Boeing, highlighted the significance of this decision, pointing to ongoing issues with Boeing's 737 Max and 787 aircraft as reflective of leadership problems.

The crashes, involving Indonesia's Lion Air in October 2018 and Ethiopian Airlines in March 2019, prompted a $2.5 billion settlement agreement in 2021. Under this deal, Boeing would avoid a criminal charge after three years if it adhered to specific compliance and ethics stipulations. However, last month the DoJ accused Boeing of failing to enforce these requirements, suggesting a breach of the agreement.

Victims' families have urged prosecutors to impose a $25 billion fine on Boeing and pursue criminal prosecution. Last week, Boeing's outgoing CEO Dave Calhoun faced US senators, testifying that the company had learned from past mistakes and that its whistleblower process was effective. Despite this, lawmakers criticized him for not sufficiently addressing a culture of retaliation.

Boeing whistleblowers have reported serious production issues with the 737 Max, 787 Dreamliner, and 777 models. Recently, a door panel fell off a new 737 Max during an Alaska Airlines flight in January, exposing ongoing safety concerns.

Calhoun, set to step down at the end of 2024 with a $33 million pay package, will remain on Boeing's board. He succeeded Dennis Muilenburg, who was fired following the crashes. Pierson described the leadership changes as superficial, noting Calhoun's decade-long tenure at the company prior to becoming CEO in 2019. Photo by Dave Sizer from Seattle, WA, USA, Wikimedia commons.