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On Wednesday, Boeing has announced that it will be pledging an “initial investment” of $100 million over several years as reparations for the affected families of the 737 Max plane crashes that killed 346 people, the Associated Press reports.
The money is to be distributed between local nonprofits and community groups who will further distribute the funds to the affected families, the company said. The intention is that the pledged money will be used to support the future education of those children who have lost their parents, and “hardship or living expenses for impacted families,” Boeing said in its statement.
“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,” Boeing’s chairman, Dennis Muilenburg said.
In response, Robert Clifford, a representative of relatives who died on the Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed, said “For the totality of these losses, that is a very small number. I wouldn’t even say it’s a good start.”
So far, not many details have been given on the specifics of the money Boeing has pledged; how much each family will be given and through what means, as well as how Boeing will calculate what each family will be granted, remains uncertain.
Given the dozens of lawsuits, flight cancelations, and refusal by various airlines to utilize Boeing planes that have resulted from these crashes, Boeing’s $100 million pledge really is just a drop in the bucket.
The two crashes in question happened within 5 months of each other, beginning late last year.
The first occurred on Oct. 29th, 2018, after the Lion Air flight crashed into the sea only moments after takeoff from Jakarta, Indonesia. All 189 people on board, including pilots, were killed. Black box data shows that an automatic safety system pushed the plane’s nose down, despite the pilots attempts to overcome the unknown “flight control problem”.
The second crash occurred on March 10, 2019, this time in Ethiopia. Much like the Jarkata crash, the Ethiopian Airlines jet crashed almost immediately after takeoff, killing all 157 people on the plane. “Faulty sensor data led to a series of events that caused pilots of an Ethiopian Airlines to lose control of the airplane before a fatal crash, according to a preliminary report,” the Chicago Tribune reports.
Both crashes involved a Boeing 737 Max 8 jet and were a result of Boeing’s new flight control system’s malfunctions.
Two days after the second crash, on March 12th, Boeing publicly promised that they would update the flight control systems of the 737 Max 8 models following the FAA’s issuing of an advisory mandating design changes by April.
No problems were discovered by the FAA’s subsequent investigations, saying their review “shows no systemic performance issues,” despite many of Boeing’s planes having been grounded around the world.