July 3 (UPI) -- Aviation giant Boeing said Wednesday it's setting aside $100 million for families and communities affected by two crashes of its 737 Max 8 that killed 346 people.
The plane maker said it will partner with local governments and non-profit organizations to address needs and make the investment over several years. The money will support education, hardship and living expenses for affected families, and economic development in their communities, Boeing said.
The 737 Max fleet was grounded worldwide in March after the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jet, and five months after another in Indonesia. The planes are still not certified to fly, and will stay on the ground until Boeing fixes a software issue and it's approved by federal regulators.
"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," company chief Dennis Muilenburg said in a statement.
"We hope this initial outreach can help bring them comfort. We know every person who steps aboard one of our airplanes places their trust in us. We are focused on re-earning that trust."
The money won't be part of any compensation Boeing may ultimately pay in legal cases related to the crashes.
Robert A. Clifford, senior partner of Clifford Law Offices in Chicago who represents 23 of the victims in the Ethiopian Airlines crash, called Boeing's offer "disingenuous."
"This type of offer so early in the litigation process is unprecedented," Clifford said in a statement. "Because there is still so much to learn about what occurred, it also appears to be 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," he added.