Watchdog sues for records of Boeing's communications with Trump's Transportation Department

Watchdog sues for records of Boeing's communications with Trump's Transportation Department

The government watchdog Accountable.US has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Transportation (DOT) after requests for records of communications between Boeing and DOT have not been acknowledged.

Following the second deadly Boeing 737 MAX crash last year, Accountable.US submitted four Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests in December related to communications between Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) but have yet to receive any records in response.

Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US, said in a statement that safety should be the highest priority for the U.S.

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"Under Secretary [Elaine] Chao, it looks more and more like the Federal Aviation Administration protected Boeing's interests over people's lives," Herrig said. 

After the March 10, 2019 crash of a Boeing 737 MAX-8 in operation under Ethiopian Airlines, the Trump administration waited three days to ground the plane model, the watchdog points out, after other nations such as Canada, China, Malaysia and the U.K. had already done so.

"Americans have a right to know if the Trump administration failed to initially ground Boeing's 737 MAX in order to protect the company's bottom line. Hundreds of people died in the fatal 737 MAX crashes. We deserve answers," Herrig said.

Prior to the Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 157 onboard, another fatal 737 MAX crash killed 189 people on Oct. 29, 2018, under the Indonesian Lion Air company.

Boeing engineers recently discovered a new software issue plaguing the current fixes being made to the 737 MAX, but are unsure if the problem will delay the aircraft's projected return to service that is expected around mid-2020.

The Hill has reached out to the FAA for further comment.