Government investigations and reviews
• The Department of Justice’s Fraud Section has opened a criminal investigation into the development and certification of the Boeing 737 MAX by the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing. The Department of Transportation’s Inspector General and the FBI are participating in the investigation. Federal attorneys are gathering evidence through a federal grand jury seated in Washington, D.C. Grand jury proceedings are conducted in secret and the Justice Department has declined to comment on the investigation. The FAA and Boeing have also declined to comment.
• The Transportation Department’s Inspector General is conducting a separate administrative audit into the certification of the MAX. At a Senate subcommittee hearing in March, Inspector General Calvin L. Scovel III said such audits generally take about seven months, but could take longer given the complexity of the issue.
• The U.S Senate’s Aviation and Space subcommittee held a public hearing March 27, where Daniel Elwell, the FAA’s acting administrator, defended the agency’s oversight of the jet. A second hearing, where Boeing officials might testify, is pending without a date.
• In early April, the FAA announced the formation of a review panel headed by former National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) chairman Christopher Hart, comprising a team of experts from the FAA, NASA and international aviation authorities. The group will conduct a comprehensive review of the certification of the automated flight-control system on the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, as well as its design and how pilots interact with it, the FAA said.
• A U.S. House subcommittee has scheduled a May 15 hearing on the Boeing 737 MAX airliner. The Aviation Subcommittee of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold the hearing at 10 a.m. The committee’s website says the hearing will be on the “status of the Boeing 737 MAX.” Elwell and NTSB chair Robert Sumwalt are scheduled to testify, but no Boeing officials.
Information from The Washington Post and The Associated Press is included in this summary.