Brother of Boeing 737 Max crash victim says DOJ deal ‘does nothing’ to fix the problem

close video Boeing needs monitor regime, 737 Boeing Max crash victim brother says

Javier de Luis, who tragically lost his sister in the second fatal 737 Max 8 crash five years ago, speaks out about Boeing plea deal.

Aerospace engineer Javier de Luis, who tragically lost his sister in one of the 737 Max 8 crashes, is outraged over Boeing's plea deal, saying the federal government failed the flying public by not imposing a "significant" penalty on the company, as well as a robust monitoring regime.

When speaking candidly with FOX Business, de Luis said he had "zero" confidence that things will change in the near term, and worse, fears that such an incident could occur again, especially given the company's recent deal with the Department of Justice (DOJ). 

FOX Business reached out to the Department of Justice for comment.


"It [the deal] is insufficient, not just because it does not provide any accountability for the actions taken. It's insufficient because it does nothing to ensure that we're not going to be here again in a couple of years," de Luis, who was also a member of the Federal Aviation Administration Expert Review Panel on Boeing’s Safety Culture, said.

Javier de Luis’ sister, Graziella de Luis y Ponce was among the victims of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash while en route to a conference in Nairobi. (Javier de Luis)

On Monday, Fox Business confirmed that Boeing agreed to plead guilty to a criminal fraud conspiracy charge, effectively skirting a criminal trial in connection with a Justice Department investigation into two deadly crashes involving 737 MAX jetliners. 

Last week, federal prosecutors gave Boeing the choice to either plead guilty and pay a fine or proceed to trial on the felony criminal charge of conspiracy to defraud the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) related to a software feature tied to the tragic crashes.


"We can confirm that we have reached an agreement in principle on terms of a resolution with the Justice Department, subject to the memorialization and approval of specific terms," a Boeing spokesperson told FOX Business. 

The plea deal still requires a federal judge's approval, but would label the plane manufacturer a convicted felon if accepted. As part of the plea, Boeing will also pay a criminal fine of $243.6 million, a DOJ official told Reuters.

The deal only covers the company, not any current or former Boeing officials, the DOJ told Reuters, adding that charges against any person are unlikely because of the statute of limitations.

Javier de Luis’ sister, Graziella de Luis y Ponce, and his two children. (Javier de Luis)

According to the agreement, the company is, in part, obligated to invest at least $455 million in its compliance and safety programs. An independent compliance monitor will also be selected by the government to oversee the tens of thousands of employees at factories in four different states.

"No one disagrees that Boeing needs external monitoring. They have demonstrated that they are not capable of self-policing…but it needs to be a monitoring regime," de Luis said. [There] "needs to be a technical person, a legal person. [There] needs to be a staff that can go and talk to the engineers, talk to the mechanics, talk to the technicians, and find out if what they are seeing or what they're being told by Boeing managers and executives lines up with the reality."


De Luis's sister, Graziella de Luis y Ponce, who was an interpreter for the United Nations and the Vatican, was among the victims of the Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed while en route to a conference in Nairobi in March 2019. The crash was less than five months after a Lion Air flight plunged into the Java Sea. 

In 2021, de Luis noted that Boeing had already breached its obligations from an agreement that shielded the embattled corporation from criminal prosecution from both fatal 737 MAX crashes that killed 346 people in total. 

Javier de Luis’ sister, Graziella de Luis y Ponce, sitting with his two children and wife. (Javier de Luis)

The DOJ had the opportunity to help return the beleaguered company to excellence but instead chose "to make life as simple as possible for the executives that are there right now," de Luis said of the latest deal. 

While he acknowledged that Boeing is "too big to fail," he also asserted that the company is "also too big to be allowed to continue down this path."

"It's true that airplanes are complex, but complex complexity can't be used to hide responsibility. These airplanes crashed. These people died, including my sister, not because of an act of God. It was because of the incompetence of man," he said. "By just throwing our hands up and saying, 'oh, it's too complicated. And, you know, things will happen'…It's a disservice to everybody that died and their sacrifice." Ticker Security Last Change Change % BA THE BOEING CO. 185.84 +1.01 +0.55%

As a member of the Federal Aviation Administration Expert Review Panel on Boeing’s Safety Culture, de Luis said he spent the last year looking at the culture of Boeing and what it was doing to improve safety. In the report, entitled, Section 103 Organization Designation Authorizations (ODA) for Transport Airplanes Expert Panel Review Report, they noted "dozens of instances of places where Boeing is lacking in its commitment to safety," he said. 

The Boeing regional headquarters is seen amid the coronavirus pandemic on April 29, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia. – Boeing announced sweeping cost-cutting measures Wednesday after reporting a first-quarter loss of $641 million following the hit to th (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Lawyers for some of the families criticized the plea agreement as a "sweetheart deal" and filed an objection to the deal.  


Robert A. Clifford, senior partner of Clifford Law Offices and lead counsel in litigation representing the families of the victims of a Boeing 737 Max 8 crash that killed 157 persons in Ethiopia in 2019, says the families are fighting to have the final say in the selection of the monitor.

The families are also "objecting to the idea that the Department of Justice is actually permitting Boeing to have a roll in the selection process without court oversight," he added.

FOX Business' Landon Mion contributed to this report. 



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