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Boeing announces $100 million fund for those affected by Indonesian and Ethiopian 737 Max crashes

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Boeing has created a $100 million fund to cover the needs of family and community members affected by two crashes involving the company’s 737 Max aircraft.

Boeing said the fund announced Wednesday will support “education, hardship and living expenses” for those affected by the Lion Air crash in Indonesia, which killed 189 people in October, and the Ethiopian Airlines crash, which killed 157 in March. The aviation giant said it would partner with local governments and nonprofit entities on community programs and economic development in grieving communities. Boeing said this “initial investment” would be made over several years.

Boeing also said it would match any donations its employees made toward these efforts through year’s end.

“We know every person who steps aboard one of our airplanes places their trust in us,” Dennis Muilenburg, the company’s chairman, president and chief executive, said in a statement. “We are focused on re-earning that trust and confidence from our customers and the flying public in the months ahead.”

Muilenburg has apologized for the loss of life and has publicly acknowledged the role played in both crashes by the Boeing-approved Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System. MCAS could, in certain circumstances, cause pilots to lose control of an aircraft in response to faulty data from the plane’s external sensors.

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In response to questions from The Washington Post, the company said the pledge is separate from any lawsuits filed by the families of crash victims.

“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,” the company said.

Century-old Boeing has had to contend with multiple safety issues that have jeopardized its reputation. Last month, the Federal Aviation Administration discovered a potential problem related to the flight control computer on 737 Max jets that could, in rare circumstances, force the plane into an uncontrollable dive. Experienced FAA test pilots had been worried that they could not “quickly and easily follow the required recovery procedures,” a person familiar with the testing told The Post.

That problem is separate from what investigators say played a part in the crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia. In both cases, faulty information from an external sensor prompted MCAS to automatically pitch the noses of the planes downward. All 737 Max aircraft in commercial fleets have been grounded since March.

In April, FAA regulators said Boeing had to correct an additional problem with the flight control system of the grounded planes. That issue involves software affecting flaps and other flight control hardware and is crucial to flight safety, officials have said.