Boeing to pay $2.5 bln in 737 MAX probe

Boeing has reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice over two plane crashes that killed a total of 346 people and led to the grounding of its 737 MAX jetliner.

The planemaker will pay more than $2.5 billion in fines and compensation in a deal that allows it to avoid prosecution.

It includes a fine of more than $243 million and compensation to airlines of over $1.7 billion.

There is also to be a $500 million crash-victim fund over fraud conspiracy charges related to the plane's flawed design.

The Justice Department deal, announced after the market close on Thursday (Jan 7), caps a 21-month investigation into the design and development of the 737 MAX.

The two crashes happened in Indonesia and Ethiopia in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

Prosecutors say they "exposed fraudulent and deceptive conduct by employees of one of the world's leading commercial airplane manufacturers."

The crashes triggered a hailstorm of investigations, frayed U.S. leadership in global aviation and have cost Boeing some $20 billion.

As a result of the disasters, U.S. Congress in December passed legislation reforming how airplanes are certified as ready for service.

The 737 MAX was grounded in March 2019, with the ban not lifted until November 2020 after Boeing made significant safety upgrades and improvements to pilot training.