Boeing, reeling from the failures of the 737 Max, announced it will pay $100 million to the families and communities impacted by the Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashes.
In a statement, Boeing said the funds will support education, hardship and living expenses for the impacted families. Proceeds will also go for community programs and economic development in the impacted communities. Boeing said it will partner with local governments and non-profits to address the needs of those affected by the two crashes.
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"We at Boeing are sorry for the tragic loss of lives in both of these accidents and these lives lost will continue to weigh heavily on our hearts and on our minds for years to come. The families and loved ones of those on board have our deepest sympathies, and we hope this initial outreach can help bring them comfort," said Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing chairman, president, and CEO. "We know every person who steps aboard one of our airplanes places their trust in us. We are focused on re-earning that trust and confidence from our customers and the flying public in the months ahead." Boeing called the funds an initial investment that will be made over several years, implying more could come in the future.
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The move comes as Boeing tries to navigate what has been the worst scandal to plague the more than 100-year-old company. Settlements of lawsuits on behalf of victims could amount to around $1 billion, according to one estimate. If Boeing is found to have known about the flaws that led to the two plane crashes, settlement payouts may be even higher.
Boeing has been in damage control ever since the two accidents, which have been blamed on the design of a system that is supposed to prevent aerodynamic stalls. The planes have been grounded and lawmakers have been looking into the incidents. Lawsuits have already been filed by some of the families of the deceased. There still hasn't been a final conclusion as to what caused the accidents.
Earlier this week engineers in India were outraged after a report connected the crashes to software work Boeing outsourced to HCL Technologies and Cyient of India. The report contended Boeing faced problems working with Indian engineers, with one former flight instrument design engineer saying the Indian engineers could have performed better. It didn't matter that Boeing said it didn't use engineers from HCL or Cyient to develop the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, which has been blamed for the crashes.