Boeing on Wednesday announced that it had set aside $100 million in funds for the families of victims of the two 737 Max crashes.
According to Boeing’s press release, the funds will “address family and community needs of those affected by the tragic accidents of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.”
Boeing said “These funds will support education, hardship and living expenses for impacted families, community programs, and economic development in impacted communities. Boeing will partner with local governments and non-profit organizations to address these needs. This initial investment will be made over multiple years.”
However, Robert Clifford, a lawyer who is representing the families of 23 victims on the Ethiopian Airlines crash, told Business Insider that the announcement is not going over well with the families he’s spoken with.
“At best it’s a gesture, at worst it’s a token effort to address problems that aren’t foremost on the minds of these families,” he said. “What’s foremost on their minds is getting back remains from the crash site, so they can hold memorials and get some closure — why isn’t Boeing putting that money towards speeding up the process?”
Boeing faces numerous lawsuits and investigations in the aftermath of the two crashes of the new model aircraft — one in Indonesia in October, 2018, and one in Ethiopia in March of this year.
The planemaker sent this statement to Business Insider:
“The pledge is independent of the lawsuits filed by the families and loved ones of those onboard Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 and Lion Air Flight 610. We’ve been assessing a variety of ways to assist the families and communities impacted and determined that this is a constructive step that we can take now. As the investigations continue, Boeing is cooperating fully with the investigating authorities. We won’t comment on individual lawsuits directly.”
Following the second crash, aviation authorities worldwide grounded all various of the 737 Max due to safety concerns with the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) Boeing designed for the aircraft to compensate for larger engines than previous iterations of the 737.
Lawsuits have been filed by families in several countries, including the US, Indonesia, Kenya, France, and Ethiopia. One widow from France is suing Boeing for $276 million — one day of earnings for the company in 2018.
More than 400 pilots are also suing Boeing over missed wages as the plane remains grounded, while airlines with the grounded aircraft in their fleets are also seeking compensation.
Another criticism: the lack of any details in the announcement.
“What does Boeing mean when they say they’re going to ‘give money to communities,'” Clifford said. “Are these funds advancements? Who’s an eligible claimant? What’s the process? What counts as ‘education?’ The announcement creates more questions than it provides answers.”
SOURCE: Business Insider