Boeing 737 Max 8
(Photo: REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan)

Boeing is at risk of prosecution over possible criminal charges due to the consecutive crashes of its 737 Max 8 planes. The aircraft maker is now being probed for possible lapses on reviewing the safety of the plane model and passing it as safe to fly.

Since this is now being treated as a criminal case, the FBI joined the investigation on the certification process for the fleet of Boeing 737 Max 8 jets. The probe stemmed from the deadly crashes that occurred within just a five-month period.

In October 2018, the Lion Air flew its Boeing 737 Max for a flight to Jakarta and just minutes after takeoff, it crashed, killing 189. Nearly five months after that incident, the Ethiopian Airlines' flight 302 also crashed near Addis Ababa and all of its 157 passengers and crew have died in that accident.

With the incidents and considering the fact that the planes are new, the US aviation regulator is being scrutinized due to questions on how the Boeing 737 Max was certified and allowed to be used for commercial flights.

Bloomberg reported that this is an unusual case because typically when there is a plane crash, the investigators would focus on finding the cause but this time, they are looking into the faults of Boeing and bodies that checked on the safety of Boeing 737, Max. Thus, the aircraft manufacturer may possibly be held liable for the crashes if the probe will reveal there is negligence on the processing of its certification.

Aside from Boeing, some officials of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) who are involved in the certification of the 737 Max 8 will have to face the federal grand jury investigation in Washington. The probe is being supervised by the US Justice Department's criminal division and carried out by the Transportation Department's Inspector General.

Finally, in the latest development if this case regarding Boeing 737 max planes, The Straits Times reported that involved FAA officials were called to testify in the US Senate. The hearing has no specific date yet and this would be the first time that the lawmakers are questioning officials over a plane crash case.  Most likely, the Senate will inquire why the regulator approved the certification of the plane model in question without imposing the requirement for extensive supplementary training.