In Rare Move, Criminal Federal Prosecutor Probes Boeing 737 MAX Development

Forensic experts work at the crash site of the Ethiopian Airlines operated Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in which their relatives perished among the 157 passengers and crew onboard, at Hama Quntushele village, near Bisho... Forensic experts work at the crash site of the Ethiopian Airlines operated Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in which their relatives perished among the 157 passengers and crew onboard, at Hama Quntushele village, near Bishoftu, in Oromia region, on March 15, 2019. - A French investigation into the March 10 Nairobi-bound Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX crash that killed 157 passengers and crew opened on March 15 as US aerospace giant Boeing stopped delivering the top-selling aircraft. (Photo by TONY KARUMBA / AFP) (Photo credit should read TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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March 18, 2019 8:24 a.m.

A subpoena issued March 11 was sent to at least one person involved in the Boeing 737 MAX jetliner’s development and is signed by a federal prosecutor in the Department of Justice’s criminal division, according to a Sunday Wall Street Journal report.

The subpoena is reportedly seeking documents, including emails and other correspondence, related to the aircraft’s development.

As the Journal points out, it is rare in the United States for federal prosecutors to use a criminal probe to investigate the regulatory approval process of a commercial aircraft, and to look into the relationship between the Federal Aviation Administration and the planes it oversees in general. Investigations like this are reportedly usually handled as civil cases by the Department of Transportation’s inspector general.

The scrutiny comes amid two well-publicized crashes that grounded the 737 in many countries.

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