Friday, August 6, 1999 Published at 09:25 GMT 10:25 UK
Cash offer to plane crash relatives
Investigators have yet to discover the cause of the crash
Swissair and Boeing have offered compensatory damages for relatives of all 229 people who died in a plane crash off the Canadian coast last year.
The move is unprecedented in airline liability cases.
As part of the proposed deal, the plaintiffs would have to waive their claim for $16bn in punitive damages.
A lawyer for the plaintiffs, Lee Kreindler said: "It's unprecedented. But this is what they should have done in the first place."
A joint statement from Swissair and Boeing said: "The two companies will jointly assume financial responsibility for the total amount of proven damages stemming form the crash of Swissair flight 111."
The judge instructed both sides to put their positions in writing ahead of the next hearing on 13 September.
The Swissair passenger jet, en route from New York to Geneva, crashed last September after the pilot reported smoke in the cockpit.
Everybody on board was killed when it plunged into the water while trying to make an emergency landing at Halifax International Airport, Nova Scotia.
Crash investigators have collected more than one million pieces of evidence from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean.
He said this was because there were more businessmen on the Swissair flight who were supporting families, whereas many of the Pan Am passengers were children and students.