The US Court of Justice on Thursday indicted a former Boeing test pilot for misleading the agency that oversees flight during the certification process for the 737 Max, a model implicated in two crashes that left 346 dead.
The Department of Justice explained that Mark Forkner “provided false, inaccurate, and incomplete information to the agency about a new part of the Boeing 737 Max’s flight control system,” called MCAS, that caused the 2018 and 2019 crashes.
According to prosecution documents, in 2016 Forkner discovered information about a significant change made to this program that sought to prevent serious aircraft losses in altitude, but decided not to share it with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Consequently, the FAA did not include references to MCAS in a core document and pilot training manuals.
Forkner, 49, is also accused of conspiring against Boeing customers who bought the 737 Max by denying them basic information. According to documents released in 2020, he boasted that he could trick his FAA peers into obtaining MCAS certification.
The 737 Max was officially approved in March 2017. In October 2018 and March 2019, two accidents, respectively with aircraft from Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines, killed 346 people.
All other 737 Max planes had to stay on the ground for 20 months before being allowed to fly again in late 2020 after their schedules changed. Boeing has admitted responsibility for power fraud and has agreed to pay more than $2.5 billion in damages.
Forkner has been formally indicted by a Texas grand jury on two counts of aircraft parts fraud and four counts of electronic communications fraud.
“Forkner is withholding key information to the regulator in an effort to save Boeing money,” Texas Attorney General Chad Meacham said. “The Department of Justice cannot tolerate fraud, especially in such a high-risk industry.”
AFP sought not to comment on the case.
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