NEW YORK: A US federal jury on Thursday (October 14) accused a former Boeing chief test pilot of misleading flight controllers during the 737 MAX certification process, which was involved in two fatal accidents.
Mark Forkner, 49, was the lead contact between the flight giant and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on how pilots should be trained to fly the plane.
Forkner “provided the agency with materially false, inaccurate and incomplete information about a new part of the Boeing 737 MAX flight control system, called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), which was blamed for the 2018 and 2019 crashes,” the Justice Department said in a statement.
According to court documents, Forkner had discovered information in 2016 about a major change made in MCAS that would prevent stalling, but deliberately chose not to share the details with the FAA.
As a result, the FAA did not include a reference to MCAS in a critical document or in turn in pilot training manuals.
Forkner is also accused of conspiring against Boeing customers who bought 737 MAX aircraft by withholding critical information.
According to documents published in early 2020, he boasted that he could cheat his FAA contacts to get certification for MCAS.
737 MAX was formally certified in March 2017, but was founded worldwide for 20 months after two crashes in October 2018 and March 2019 that killed a total of 346 people.
In both cases, MCAS had gone mad based on incorrect information transmitted by one of the aircraft’s two sensors. MAX was allowed to fly again at the end of 2020, when the MCAS software was changed.
Boeing has acknowledged its responsibility for misleading regulators and agreed to pay more than $ 2.5 billion to settle lawsuits.
Forkner was formally charged Thursday by a Texas jury on two counts of fraud involving aircraft parts and four cases of wire fraud. If convicted, he could face up to 100 years in prison.
“Forkner is said to have withheld critical information from regulators,” said Texas Federal Prosecutor Chad Meacham. “The Ministry of Justice will not tolerate fraud – especially not in industries where efforts are so high.”
Boeing did not respond to an AFP request for comment.