The Biden administration’s Justice Department is looking to offer airplane manufacturer Boeing a plea deal to avoid criminal prosecution stemming from alleged fraud related to two fatal crashes.

If the company opts for a guilty plea, it would be subjected to a financial penalty totaling $487.2 million, Reuters reported.

This penalty is the maximum allowed under law for conspiring to defraud the Federal Aviation Administration. However, the company would be credited for half that amount because of a previous settlement related to the two airplane crashes.

It would also be placed on probation for three years and compelled to undergo rigorous independent safety audits to monitor its compliance with aviation regulations. The proposed plea deal also requires Boeing’s board to meet with the families of crash victims, per Reuters.

A 2021 agreement, in which the company agreed to improve its manufacturing standards, shielded the company from prosecution over the two airplane crashes in 2018 and 2019 that killed a total of 346 people. However, the Department of Justice has determined that the company violated the terms of that agreement, opening the way for the federal government to pursue criminal charges.

A negative report from the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in 2020 sparked heightened scrutiny of Boeing, as previously covered by The Dallas Express. The report highlighted systemic failures within the company, which were identified as significant contributing factors to the fatal crashes involving the 737 Max airplanes.

Earlier this year, concerns about Boeing’s safety record resurfaced following an alarming incident involving an Alaska Airlines-operated Boeing 737. Shortly after takeoff, a door plug was blown out, creating a large hole in the aircraft in mid-flight, leading to an emergency landing.

Critics of the air travel industry have raised concerns about the industry’s prioritization of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” initiatives over core business and safety practices,  as reported previously by The Dallas Express. This shift in focus has sparked debates about whether such initiatives could potentially be contributing factors that compromise passenger safety at companies like Boeing, Southwest, and American Airlines.

Multiple other incidents in recent months involving Boeing aircraft have further stoked concerns about its planes’ safety, as reported by The Dallas Express. Whistleblowers have stepped forward to accuse the company of faulty quality control measures and falsifying records.

Family members expressed mixed reactions to the news of the proposed plea deal, which some say fails to hold the company sufficiently accountable for the tragic loss of lives, as attorney Erin Applebaum told Reuters. The family members she represents would like to see Boeing face additional charges and increased financial penalties.

Attorney General Merrick Garland and his team at the DOJ are pushing for a resolution to this high-stakes case by the end of the week, per Reuters. If Boeing rejects the plea deal, prosecutors are prepared to take the matter to trial, setting the stage for a prolonged legal confrontation that could further tarnish Boeing’s reputation and financial standing.