FBI Joins Criminal Probe Into Boeing 737 Max 8 Certification

Geraldine Edwards
March 21, 2019

On Wednesday, the FAA announced that Boeing is working on a service bulletin with instructions for airlines on how to install new flight control computer operational program software in the Boeing 737 Max 8, Reuters reported. The plane then hit water.

The FAA let the Boeing Max keep flying after preliminary findings from the October 29 crash of a Lion Air Max 8 in Indonesia pointed to flight-control problems linked to the failure of a sensor.

Boeing Co Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg, facing the biggest crisis of his tenure, said on Monday that the company understands "lives depend on the work we do" and was taking steps to "fully ensure" the safety of the 737 MAX jet in the wake of deadly crashes.

As a result, European airlines have flown Boeing jets with little independent review by the European Aviation Safety Agency, and USA airlines operate Airbus jets without a separate, lengthy certification process by the FAA. The system pulled the plane's nose down more than two dozen times, the report said.

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Boeing said it would cooperate with the DoT audit.

"I can guarantee to you that on our side we will not allow the aircraft to fly if we have not found acceptable answers to all our questions, whatever the FAA does", he said. They will likely be asked why the regulator agreed to certify the MAX planes in March 2017 without requiring extensive additional training.

The pilot, who was seated on the cockpit jumpseat, gave the flight's crew instructions on disabling on a malfunctioning flight-control system, sources told the news agency. However, officials in Europe and Canada will want to test it themselves, instead of depending only on US approval.

The panel plans to call Boeing and other aviation manufacturers to testify amid a scramble to discover what caused the crashes of an Ethiopian Airlines flight last week and a crash involving Lion Air in Indonesia last October. He also served as deputy administrator and in other capacities at the FAA.

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Boeing chief comments came after USA federal prosecutors and regulators opened an inquiry into the plane's development process.

Boeing insists that the 737 Max 8 is safe to fly.

The Ethiopian Airlines crash has shaken the global aviation industry and cast a shadow over the flagship Boeing model meant to be a standard for decades to come, given parallels with the Lion Air calamity off Jakarta in October.

The Justice Department's criminal division is looking into the Boeing 737 Max 8, though the parameters of that inquiry remain unclear.

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The FAA is accused of letting Boeing conduct numerous critical safety checks itself, while Boeing allegedly cut corners to rush the plane to market ahead of competitor Airbus' hot new model. He asked the inspector general to investigate the Trump administration's "lackluster" response to an earlier crash in Indonesia past year, as well as whether FAA or Boeing employees had engaged "in any unethical, improper or criminal activity during the certification process".

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