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Boeing aircraft Workers assemble a Boeing 787 Dreamliner airplane at Boeing’s Everett plant. (Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg)

The U.S. Transportation Department began an investigation of how Boeing Co.’s 737 Max was certified to fly passengers before the latest crash in Ethiopia involving the new jet, according to a person familiar with the probe.

The investigation was prompted by information obtained after a Lion Air 737 Max 8 crashed shortly after takeoff from Jakarta on Oct. 29, said the person, who wasn’t authorized to speak about the investigation and asked not to be named.

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