The US Department of Transportation has asked for a wide-ranging review of how the government and Boeing Co certified the 737 MAX — the jet that has been involved in two fatal accidents since October last year.
US Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao (趙小蘭) on Tuesday requested an audit in a memo to the department’s Inspector General Calvin Scovel.
The new audit is separate from the criminal probe that the inspector general is also conducting in conjunction with the US Department of Justice’s Criminal Division.
Chao asked Scovel to compile “an objective and detailed factual history of the activities that resulted in the certification of the Boeing 737-MAX 8 aircraft,” according to the memo.
Boeing in January 2012 sought an amended “type certification” for the jet and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued it in March 2017.
Chao’s move opens a new front in the US government’s inquiries into the October crash of an Indonesian 737 MAX and another crash of the same model in Ethiopia last week.
The 737 MAX family of jets was grounded by the FAA after evidence surfaced linking the two crashes.
“We will fully cooperate in the Department of Transportation’s audit,” Boeing spokesman Charles Bickers said in an e-mail.
The audit would not affect the timing of an update to flight-control software that Boeing is preparing for the 737 MAX, the FAA said in an e-mail.
The request came after US federal authorities had already been exploring a criminal investigation of how the 737 MAX was certified to fly passengers before the latest crash in Ethiopia, people familiar with the probe said.
That investigation was prompted by information obtained after a Lion Air 737 MAX 8 crashed shortly after takeoff from Jakarta on Oct. 29 last year, said one person, who was not authorized to speak about the investigation and asked not to be named.
The investigation has taken on new urgency after the Sunday last week crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 near Addis Ababa that killed 157 people.
Separately, Democratic leaders of the US House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee asked the inspector general to investigate the FAA’s approach to certifying the 737 MAX.
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