(CNN/CBS) — Boeing will pay out $100 million to help support the families and communities of the 346 people who died in two 737 Max crashes in the last year.
The company said the money will be given to local nonprofits and community groups who will help distribute the funds. They’ll be used to support education, including college tuition or other schooling expenses for children of victims, and “hardship or living expenses for impacted families,” Boeing said in statement.
Victim families that accept funds from this pool of money will not be required to give up the right to pursue legal action against the company, a Boeing spokesperson said. The company is facing several lawsuits over the 737 Max incidences.
“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’s chairman, president and CEO.
Robert Clifford, a Chicago lawyer representing dozens of families of a fatal 737 crash in Ethiopia in March, said the $100 million fund set up by Boeing was “unprecedented” but also “disingenuous.”
“Frankly, Boeing’s statement creates more questions than answers. Boeing does not understand that the families at this point in time are not interested in its money. The fact is that what is foremost on the minds of these families is getting back the human remains from the crash site. To date that process has been torturously slow without a great deal of communication from Ethiopia. If Boeing really wanted to help, it would take all that money and devote it to accelerating the remains recovery/identification process for these families,” Clifford said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “The families also want to see the necessary money spent on making the 737 Max 8 plane safe. If that means a complete redesign and recertification of the Max 8, so be it.”
Boeing’s 737 Max jets were grounded worldwide in March after one of the vehicles, flown by Ethiopian Airlines, crashed shortly after takeoff. It followed a crash in late 2018 of a 737 Max flown by Indonesian airline Lion Air.
The grounding has forced airlines to cancel hundreds of flights, and it’s not clear when the 737 Max, which is Boeing’s top-selling plane, will be cleared to fly again.
The-CNN-Wire™ contributed to this report.