Boeing does the right thing – finally
Back in the June 2019 issue of Asian Aviation magazine, I wrote a Viewpoint column about a lunch I had with Boeing officials and suggestions I made to them to help Boeing overcome the PR disaster that has crippled the company in the form of the MAX crashes of Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines.
I suggested to Boeing PR officials that the company set up a trust fund for every child made an orphan by the crashes that would fund their education and living expenses through the first four years of university. The Boeing PR officials said it was a good idea, but the company’s lawyers would never let it happen because it would mean Boeing accepting responsibility for the crashes and opening the company up further to liability issues and legal costs.
It appears officials in Seattle and Chicago however, or even perhaps the company’s lawyers have had a change of heart because the company announced on 3 July it was setting up a US$100 million fund to support the families and communities affected by the crashes.
Here’s Boeing’s statement:
Ahead of Independence Day in the US, Boeing announced US$100 million in funds to address family and community needs of those affected by the tragic accidents of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. 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.
“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 chairman, president and CEO. “We know every person who steps aboard one of our airplanes places their trust in us. We are focused on re-earning that trust and confidence from our customers and the flying public in the months ahead.”
Boeing also said company employees will be able to donate funds and the company will match those donations through the end of the year.
In my Viewpoint column I also suggested to the PR officials that Boeing create a PR campaign under the banner of “We Believe” as in “We Believe in Boeing” or “We Believe in the MAX”. As a part of this campaign, when the first MAX that is being prepared to return to service flies its first test flight, the company’s entire board of directors gets on the plane (with cameras rolling).
Boeing so far has been silent on when these flights will take place, but it will be interesting to see if Boeing’s leadership and lawyers are willing to put their lives on the line as they expect the flying public to do.