A global grounding of Boeing's 737 Max 8 airliner is drawing new attention to the close ties between the manufacturer and the Trump administration, which so far is refusing calls to join every other country in suspending use of the plane in the United States.
President Donald Trump has touted Boeing sales across the globe -- including two weeks ago in Vietnam -- and has cultivated close relationships with the company's executives. His acting defense secretary served atop the company for more than three decades, including as the newly scrutinized planes were being developed. The company has spent millions over the past years lobbying decision-makers in Washington.
Now, as Boeing faces crumbling public confidence in one of its marquee products, those ties are being viewed in a new light. Even under increasing pressure from airline labor groups and lawmakers to take the planes out of use, the administration maintains the 737 Max 8 model remains safe to fly.
Trump spoke by phone Tuesday with CEO Dennis Muilenburg, who assured him the 737 Max 8 was safe, despite two recent crashes. Hours after the call -- which was scheduled after a crash in Ethiopia killed 157 people -- the Federal Aviation Administration said it remained confident in the planes, even as governments across Europe and Asia grounded them.
"Thus far, our review shows no systematic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft. Nor have other civil aviation authorities provided data to us that would warrant action," the agency said.
Helmed by an acting administrator for more than a year, the FAA finds itself the focus of congressional and public scrutiny for its role in inspecting and ensuring the safety of Boeing airplanes. Some US pilots who fly the Boeing 737 Max registered complaints about the way the jet has performed in flight, according to a federal database accessed by CNN.