Relationship between FAA and Boeing under scrutiny after deadly crash

Relationship between Boeing and FAA questioned

Arlington, Va. — The Transportation Department confirmed Tuesday its inspector general is investigating how the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft. The brand new plane, now grounded, has had deadly crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia. The latest call for a review of the 737 Max follows demands by federal authorities that Boeing and the FAA hold on to all documents relating to the troubled jet.

The two fatal crashes involving the Max, just five months apart, have raised questions about the relationship between the FAA and Boeing.

"We are bending over too much to the corporate interests and not enough to the public interest in the areas of safety," said Rep. Steve Cohen.

Cohen wants hearings on a process he worries has gotten too cozy. After 9/11, Congress approved a system that allows manufactures like Boeing to largely self-certify aircraft, including their safety systems.

Transportation chief Elaine Chao asks for audit of Boeing 737 Max 8 certification

"I think this was a mistake we made, and I think we're learning from it. But unfortunately 250 people in the world have died because of that I think," he said.

The Department of Transportation's inspector general found in 2012 that Boeing engineers had too much sway over safety approvals for new aircraft, and that "managers have not always supported employee efforts to hold Boeing accountable."

Avoiding questions from reporters, Boeing's CEO used a recorded video message to speak publicly for the first time since Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 crashed last week.

"We're also committed to making safe airplanes even safer and providing the best products, training and support our global airline customers and airline pilots," he said.

  • Kris Van Cleave

    Kris Van Cleave is the transportation correspondent for CBS News.