Boeing Agrees To 737 MAX Compensation Deal For Ethiopian Crash

Boeing has finally reached an agreement with the families of the 157 people who died in the crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 in 2019. Following civil legal filings in the US, Boeing has admitted liability. This paves the way for compensation claims to be made from all the families.

The 737 MAX is now flying again, but compensation cases continue. Photo: Getty Images

Agreeing to pay compensation

The latest development in the ongoing 737 MAX crash investigations and compensation discussions came on November 10th. Boeing agreed to acknowledge liability for damages in lawsuits filed by families of the victims of the Ethiopian Airlines crash. The families had filed lawsuits through the US District Court in Chicago.

The amount of compensation to be paid to each family will now be determined – this is not part of the agreement just reached. But the agreement does affirm Boeing’s liability for compensation. The company will not further challenge the lawsuits or attempt to blame other parties.

It also prevents further action from the victim’s families against Rosemount Aerospace and other 737 MAX suppliers.

Boeing said in a statement:

“Boeing is committed to ensuring that all families who lost loved ones in the accidents are fully and fairly compensated for their loss. By accepting responsibility, Boeing’s agreement with the families allows the parties to focus their efforts on determining the appropriate compensation for each family.”

Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX
Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 crashed in March 2019. Photo: LLBG Spotter via Wikimedia

Next step in the process

This is not the first step in the acknowledgment and compensation debate, nor will it be the last. In January 2021, Boeing agreed to pay a $2.5 billion settlement over both the Ethiopian Airlines and the Lion Air 737 MAX crashes. By doing so, it avoided any further criminal prosecution.

This included funds to offer compensation to the families, with a total fund of $500 million. The rest of this settlement covered fines and $1.77 billion compensation to airlines over the 737 MAX grounding.

737 MAX
Following the crashes, the 737 MAX was grounded worldwide. Photo: Getty Images

The new compensation agreement reached now builds on this and allows the families to pursue appropriate damage through the civil courts. Families outside the US will also be able to claim compensation this way. Lawyers representing the families explained how the deal will enable all families to pursue claims under Illinois law and be treated equitably.

Boeing confirmed to Simple Flying that it has so far settled cases for 17 Ethiopian Airlines passengers and crew. With regards to Lion Air, it has resolved claims for 183 (out of 189) passengers and crew.

The 737 MAX crashes

It has been well over two years since the fateful crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 in March 2019. And over three years since the earlier crash of Lion Air flight 610.

Lion Air 737 MAX
The Lion Air 737 MAX crashed with the same issues several months before. Photo: PK-REN via Wikimedia

Blame for this was placed on the Manoeuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). The MCAS system is designed to move the nose down if an increased angle of attack is detected to help avoid a stall. The problems that led to the two crashes included erroneous readings from sensors and a lack of training for pilots in how to respond. The situation has been made worse by charges of fraud and cover-up by Boeing employees.

This has been a terrible two to three years for all involved. The 737 MAX, of course, has now returned to the skies. Liability and compensation discussions will undoubtedly continue for some time, but this acknowledgment from Boeing should make the remaining steps cleaner.

Would you like to discuss any issues surrounding the 737 MAX crashes and Boeing’s response and liability? Feel free to discuss this in the comments. 


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