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Boeing 737 MAX 8 passenger planes at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on March 13. Photo: Ralph Freso/Getty Images

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao requested that the department's inspector general investigate the certification process the department followed that allowed the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft into the skies. Two Boeing 737 MAXs have crashed since October, leading to a worldwide grounding of the popular jetliner.

Why it matters: The investigation adds to the probes that Boeing is facing over the crash of a Lion Air 737 MAX 8 in October and the loss of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 on March 10. In the wake of the latter crash, the FAA, which is housed within the Transportation Department, ordered all 737 MAX aircraft grounded, after nearly every affected major country in the world had already done the same.

Details: In her letter to the inspector general, Chao wrote that she is seeking an "audit to compile an objective and detailed factual history of the activities that resulted in the certification of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft." In a Tweet Tuesday afternoon, Boeing said it will "fully cooperate in the Department of Transportation's audit announced by Secretary Chao."

Context: The main focus of the investigations into both crashes concern a software system known as MCAS that intervenes when it senses that a rare flight condition, known as a high speed stall, is taking place. In both crashes, it appears that the MCAS system repeatedly activated, forcing the plane's nose down and leading to a fatal crash.

A Seattle Times investigation, as well as other reporting, shows that the FAA may have been too deferential to Boeing in certifying that the MCAS system in particular, and the aircraft type in general, was safe to fly.

The big picture: Other investigations underway include two crash probes, one in Indonesia and another in Ethiopia, a reported grand jury criminal investigation into the aircraft's certification, and a mounting congressional probe.

Go deeper: What we've learned from the 737 MAX crashes

Go deeper

DiDi to delist from NYSE under Chinese govt pressure

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Chinese ride-hail giant DiDi said it will delist from the New York Stock Exchange, following a Chinese government crackdown on foreign listings.

Why it matters: This reflects how geopolitical tensions are bleeding into the capital markets.

Updated 28 mins ago - Health

Omicron cases confirmed in 5 U.S. states

A healthcare worker inserts a Covid-19 rapid test into a machine in Denver, Colorado. Photo: Daniel Brenner/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Hawaii became on Thursday the fifth state to confirm the newly discovered Omicron variant after New York announced five new cases earlier in the day.

The latest: In Hawaii, the variant was found in an unvaccinated O'ahu resident with moderate symptoms who had previously been infected with COVID-19, per a state health department statement. The variant has also been confirmed in California, Colorado and Minnesota.

Senate Dems receive max donations from Nord Stream 2 lobbyist

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A major Democratic donor and Nord Stream 2 lobbyist has made maximum campaign contributions this year to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and vulnerable Senate Democrats, campaign finance records show.

Why it matters: If pressure from the White House to vote against reimposing sanctions on the Russia-backed natural gas pipeline weren't enough, Democrats who back such legislation also will be at loggerheads with one of their party's top fundraisers.

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