Via BBC News (https://www.bbc.com/news/business-48859463)
By Russell Hotten
Boeing is giving $100m (£80m) to help families affected by the two crashes of the company’s 737 Max planes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.
The payment, stretching over several years, is independent of lawsuits filed in the wake of the disasters, which together killed 346 people.
The money will support education and living expenses for families and community programs, Boeing said.
With more than 15,000 orders, the 737 is the bestselling series in Boeing’s history. The 737 Max, a submodel in the popular 737 line, has recently been grounded worldwide following the second crash that killed 157 people, just four months after the Lion Air Indonesia crash which caused 189 fatalities. In April 2019, Boeing projected a $1 billion loss as it canceled plans to reward shareholders and its 2019 financial outlook.
After the initial investigation, the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) cited the plane’s anti-stall system as partly to blame for the accidents. There was concern that the software prevented the pilots from manually taking control of the plane as the nose was repeatedly pushed down.
Most recently, the FAA identified a further problem with the aircrafts that preceded the 737 Max. It advised airlines to check over 303,737 planes for improperly manufactured parts. The agency added, “The FAA will lift the aircraft’s prohibition order when we deem it is safe to do so.”
As a result, Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, and United Airlines extended their bans on Boeing planes. This resulted in more unprecedented costs for the manufacturer, which remains under investigation for the fatal 737 Max fatal accidents.
The company is also facing dozens of lawsuits from victim’s families of both crashes.
The loss of Ethiopian Airlines’ flight ET302 in March was the second fatal accident involving a 737 Max in the space of five months. A near identical aircraft, owned by the Indonesian carrier Lion Air, went down in the sea off Jakarta in October 2018.
Crash investigators have focussed on the aircraft’s control system and Boeing has been working with regulators to roll out a software upgrade. The top-selling 737 Max has been grounded worldwide since March, with no date when the aircraft might be cleared to fly again.
Boeing said in a statement on Wednesday that the “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.”
Dennis Muilenburg, the chairman and chief executive, added: “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,” he said.
Nomi Husain, a Texas-based lawyer representing some of the families of victims of ET 302, said Boeing’s payment “doesn’t come anywhere close to compensating the families for what has been taken from them”.
He told the BBC’s transport correspondent Tom Burridge that “some of our clients are not interested in financial compensation at this point” and that Boeing “put profit over safety to get their number-one selling plane to market” – a claim the planemaker strongly denies.
Mr Husain has so far filed seven cases on behalf of families, with some of those lawsuits seeking damages of $276m. He estimated that about 50 lawsuits had so far been filed by victims’ families.
Some families are waiting for further information about the technical causes of the crashes and how regulators cleared the 737 Max to fly before deciding on legal action, he said. But many others just want the truth, he added.
Meanwhile, Robert Clifford, who is representing 23 families, said: “This type of offer so early in the litigation process is unprecedented. Because there is still so much to learn about what occurred, it also appears to be disingenuous.” Clifford claimed that the amount was too small a number given the “totality of these losses.”
In total, Boeing is responsible for the deaths of 346 passengers. The recent move to donate $100 million to the victim’s families is generally considered inadequate to cover this loss.
Attorney Nomaan K. Husain of Husain Law + Associates has filed a lawsuit against Boeing for the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 Boeing 737 Max crash. If you have been affected by this crash, don’t wait a moment longer. Contact us today so we can review your case! Call 713-987-7126 or click here to send us a message!