Boeing, still reeling from the two deadly 737 Max crashes, is setting aside $100 million to assist the families of victims and communities impacted by the accidents in October and March that killed 346 people.
The funds will be available over the next several years and are not part of any compensation Boeing may have to pay to those who sue the company for damages related to accidents.
Days after the second 737 Max jet crashed in Ethiopia, the FAA and other aviation regulators around the world grounded the airplane until the company could fix defects in the aircraft and prove it is safe for commercial flights. The plane has now been grounded for more than three months and Boeing has said it is unlikely questions about the plane’s safety will be resolved until sometime in the September time frame.
“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,” Boeing Chairman and CEO Dennis Muilenburg said in a release announcing the funds. “The families and loved ones of those on board have our deepest sympathies, and we hope this initial outreach can help bring them comfort.”
The victims’ families won’t have to waive their right to sue Boeing if they take money from the fund, the company said.
The move comes as Boeing continues to feel backlash for how it designed the 737 Max earlier this decade. Critics say the company rushed to build the plane and did not fully disclose issues regarding the 737 Max MCAS flight control software. That software is suspected of causing crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia. In both accidents, investigators have not determined an official cause of the crash.
“We are focused on re-earning that trust and confidence from our customers and the flying public in the months ahead.” Muilenburg said in the statement announcing the fund.