The Transportation Department is confirming that its watchdog agency will examine how the Federal Aviation Administration certified the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, the now-grounded plane involved in two fatal accidents within five months.
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao asked for the audit in a letter Tuesday to Inspector General Calvin Scovel III.
Chao says an audit will improve the department's decision-making and the public's understanding.
“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. As you know, Boeing requested an amended type certification for this aircraft in January 2012, and the Federal Aviation Administration issued the certification in March 2017," Chao said in the letter.
A Lion Air Max 8 crashed off the coast of Indonesia last October, and an Ethiopian Airlines Max 8 crashed this month near Addis Ababa.
Investigators suspect an automated flight-control system that was not part of older 737s may have played a role in the Indonesian crash, and the Ethiopian plane had a similar, erratic flight path.
Boeing, meanwhile, said it will fully cooperate with the audit request.