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US transportation secretary orders audit of Boeing 737 Max 8 certification

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao on March 19 called for a review of the Federal Aviation Administration's certification process for Boeing Co.'s 737 Max 8 aircraft, following two fatal crashes in a few months.

In a memo, Chao directed Calvin Scovel, the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Transportation, to conduct an audit "to compile an objective and detailed factual history of the activities" that led to the certification of the troubled jet model.

Chao said Boeing requested an amended type certification for the concerned aircraft in January 2012. It was issued by the FAA in March 2017.

The U.S. on March 13 grounded all flights of Boeing 737 Max 8 and 737 Max 9 aircraft in the U.S., three days after a 737 Max 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed shortly after takeoff, killing all 157 people on board. That followed the Lion Air crash of October 2018, which resulted in 189 deaths.

The FAA previously said Boeing 737 Max jets were still safe to fly, even though several countries had already suspended operations of the aircraft.

Separately, the White House said President Donald Trump plans to nominate Stephen Dickson as the next administrator of the FAA. Dickson recently retired as senior vice president, flight operations, for Delta Air Lines Inc.