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- Several families of the victims of the two Boeing 737 Max crashes say that Boeing has not contacted them to offer support, condolences, or an apology.
- Boeing has apologized publicly, but the parents of a woman killed in the second crash say that "a true apology is when you sit across the table together and exchange sentiment. At the very least."
- One aviation lawyer said it’s not unusual for a plane manufacturer to not apologize after a crash, but that the company would likely not implicate itself legally by apologizing.
- Boeing told Business Insider that it "extends our heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the families and loved ones" on the planes, but did not respond to a question about why it has not spoken to families directly.
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Families of those killed during two fatal crashes involving Boeing 737 Max planes say that they have not received any contact from Boeing since the disasters, with no apology or offer of support from the manufacturer.
The parents of a woman killed on one of the flights told Business Insider that they have received "no condolences" and "no direct communication" from Boeing despite numerous public apologies, and said that Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg "talks to other people but not us, the victims’ families."
Nadia Milleron and Michael Stumo lost their 24-year-old daughter, Samya Stumo, when an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max jet crashed and killed all 157 people on board in March.
It was the second crash of a 737 Max plane, after a Lion Air plane crashed and killed 189 people in Indonesia in October 2018.
Other attorneys representing more than 50 families of those killed in the crashes told Business Insider that their clients’ experience is the same.
Chicago-based aviation attorney Joe Power, Los-Angeles based attorney Brian Kabateck, and Miami-based attorney Steve Marks said that Boeing had not reached out to their clients.
Marks said that this response is not "unusual" from manufacturers after a crash, but that Boeing’s reaction has been "worse" than a typical response.
He said that Boeing "came out really quickly after the second tragedy, and said, ‘we own it, it’s our problem.’ And then has since backed those comments off, in many different ways, which I think has only inflamed the situation, as far as the families are concerned."
Mike Danko, an aviation attorney who is not representing any families in the 737 Max crashes, told Business Insider that Boeing’s action in this case were "not unusual," and that manufacturers typically do not apologize or offer support after fatal plane crashes, but he noted their public apologies.
In a statement to Business Insider, Boeing said that it "extends our heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the families and loved ones of those onboard Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 and Lion Air Flight 610."
It said that it would "is cooperating fully with the investigating authorities."
Boeing did not address Business Insider’s question about why it has not spoken with families directly.
Boeing has repeatedly publicly apologized for the crashes. Its CEO Dennis Muilenburg first apologized in a Boeing video in April, three weeks after the second crash. In the video, he said the company was "sorry for the lives lost" and that the "tragedies continue to weigh heavily on our hearts and mind."
During that statement Muilenburg also said that Boeing was working to update the plane to ensure that no similar crashes ever occurred again.
Muilenburg apologized publicly to the victims in May, saying that Boeing is "sorry for the loss of lives in both accidents" and "sorry for the impact to the families and loves ones that are behind."
He also said that the company did not implement software to the plane "correctly."
And at the Paris Air Show in June Muilenburg said that Boeing "made a mistake" in handling the system and said Boeing’s communication was "not acceptable."
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Milleron and Stumo told Business Insider that Muilenburg "never apologized for killing our daughter."
Stumo said that Boeing "put a camera in Muilenburg’s face," referring to his video apology in April.
"A true apology is when you sit across the table together and exchange sentiment. At the very least."
Milleron said the apology needed to say: "I did this wrong thing to you and I am sorry. I regret this specific wrong that I did to you."
"That’s an actual apology," she said. "If they just say they are sorry to a camera, not to the actual persons that they’ve harmed, that is not an apology at all.
"I don’t understand how he could possibly think so and I don’t think the American people see that as an actual apology."
More families came forward to sue Boeing after the company’s first apology in April, but Danko said that apologizing or offering support to the families would likely not harm the company’s legal position.
"If anything an apology can lead lower settlements, especially in cases involving death," he said.
Boeing did not respond to Business Insider’s question about whether it thought apologizing to families directly would harm its legal strategy, and said that would it is not comment on the lawsuits directly.
Danko said that Boeing could offer condolences and support to families without offering a full apology, by saying something like:
"We’re so sorry for what happened and for the unspeakable loss you’ve experienced. We haven’t yet gotten to the bottom of what happened but are committed to doing so. We want to make sure that no one else has to go through what you’re going through now. We will not rest and our plane will not fly again until we’re 100% convinced of that."
Boeing has been working with regulators as the US Federal Aviation Administration prepares to examine its updated software for the plane. The software needs to be approved before the plane can fly again.
Boeing has also been in contact with airlines since the crashes as they await the plane’s return and ask for compensation.
Muilenburg said in June that Boeing is "going to be working with all of our customers around the world to make things right" and that the company is working with them "individually customer by customer."
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