The United States of America Justice Department has summoned Boeing officials over safety and certification procedures of 737 Max planes.
According to International Media Outlets, the summon is part of investigations into Boeing’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification.
Prosecutors are reported to have written to Boeing a day after Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao asked the agency to look into the aircraft’s certification.
On his part, Chao formalised the request on Tuesday by writing to Calvin Scovel, the department’s inspector general.
“Safety is the top priority of the Department, and all of us are saddened by the fatalities resulting from the recent accidents involving two Boeing 737-Max 8 aircraft in Indonesia and Ethiopia,” Ms Chao wrote.
This is following the recent crush of Ethiopian Airlines and Indonesia’s Lion Air plane.
The Ethiopian Airlines crash killed all 157 on board including 36 Kenyans.
Sources reveal preliminary criminal investigations began in October 2018 after the ill-fated Lion Air plane went down shortly after takeoff, killing all 189 onboard.
Among the things the investigators are looking into is the process by which Boeing itself certified the plane as safe, and the data it presented to FAA about that self-certification.
Among those leading the investigations include Seattle FBI office and Justice Department’s criminal division in Washington
While it’s not clear on the criminal laws that will be at the centre of the probe, a Boeing spokesperson referred to a statement the company released recently, which indicated it “does not respond to or comment on questions concerning legal matters, whether internal, litigation, or governmental inquiries.”
The summons come at a time when the safety of the Boeing Max is in question following the two planes’ crush that killed everyone on board.
Reports following examination of data from the black boxes show similarities between the Lion Air and Ethiopian crashes.
FAA on Wednesday said Boeing has developed a software patch and pilot training program to address issues with the Max that were identified in the Lion Air crash.
Several countries have grounded their Boeing 737 Max planes including Argentina (Aerolíneas Argentinas), Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil (GOL Linhas Aéreas), Canada, Cayman Islands, China, Ethiopia, EASA member states, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico (Aeromexico), Mongolia (MIAT Mongolian Airlines), Morocco (Royal Air Maroc), Netherlands, Norway (Norwegian), Oman, Poland, Singapore, South Africa (Comair), South Korea (Eastar Jet), Turkey, United Kingdom (TUI Airways) and United States.