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Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg. Photo: Jim Young/Pool/Getty Images

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said the aircraft maker is having "ongoing conversations" with its airline customers about possible reimbursements following the grounding of its 737 MAX during an interview with Axios' Mike Allen at the Aspen Ideas Festival on Wednesday.

The big picture: The 737 MAX was grounded worldwide after crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed 346 people, highlighting concerns about its automated MCAS software system — which pushes a plane's nose down if a stall is detected and played a suspected role in both incidents — and the FAA certification and pilot training surrounding it.

  • Muilenburg said that some of the reimbursement conversations were about the "financial impact" of the 737 MAX's grounding, but others were about future aircraft delivery and increasing services and training.
  • Our thought bubble, from Axios' Andrew Freedman: In the past, such payments have totaled in the millions for airlines, but there's no precedent for such a large grounding of a brand new plane.

More details from the sit-down with Muilenburg:

  • He said that the company would seek to expand its training initiatives for its airline customers in the future following the issues with the 737 MAX.
  • He refused to acknowledge that MCAS was a specific "red flag" during the 737 MAX's six-year development and certification process. "What we've learned from both of these accidents is there were a number of factors involved — and we have to look at that holistically. There are clearly some things we can improve on the airplane, and we're making those improvements."
  • He added that the 737 MAX is still on track to be cleared to return to the skies by the end of this summer, saying that the aircraft is in the midst of the recertification process with the FAA and other worldwide regulators. However, he cautioned that it could be months until the entire worldwide fleet returns to the air.

Go deeper: Everything you need to know about the Boeing 737 MAX crashes

Go deeper

Patrick Gaspard to leave George Soros' Open Society Foundations

Patrick Gaspard speaks onstage at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Photo: Ernesto Distefano/Getty Images

Patrick Gaspard, who served as ambassador to South Africa under President Barack Obama, is stepping down as president of George Soros' Open Society Foundations, fueling speculation that he'll join the Biden administration, potentially as Labor secretary.

What to know: Before his stint as ambassador, Gaspard was Obama's political director in the White House, drawing upon his experience in the labor movement to advance Obama's legislative agenda on health care and financial services reform.

House passes bill to decriminalize marijuana

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), a longtime marijuana legalization advocate and co-sponsor of the bill. Photo: Pete Marovich For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The House on Friday voted 228-164 in favor of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, marking the first time a congressional chamber has voted in favor of decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level.

Why it matters: The Washington Post describes the bill as a "landmark retreat in the nation’s decades-long war on drugs," which has disproportionately affected people of color.

Updated 20 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Fauci says he accepted Biden's offer to be chief medical adviser "on the spot" — Biden plans to ask public to wear masks for first 100 days in office.
  2. Health: Coronavirus death rates rising across the country — Study: Increased COVID-19 testing can reduce transmission — Hospitalizations top 100,000 for the first time.
  3. Economy: U.S. economy adds 245,000 jobs in November as recovery slows — America's hidden depression: K-shaped recovery threatens Biden administration.
  4. Vaccine: What COVID-19 vaccine trials still need to do — Obama, Bush and Clinton willing to take vaccine in public —WSJ: Pfizer expects to ship half as many COVID vaccines as planned in 2020.