The test pilot is accused of misleading the US aviation regulator during the certification process. He faces 100 years in prison.
On Thursday, October 14, US justice brought an indictment against a former Boeing test pilot, accused of misleading the US aviation regulator during the certification process of the 737 Max aircraft, two of which crashed in 2018 and 2019 killing 346. Mark Forkner “The Agency has provided false, inaccurate and incomplete information on a new Boeing 737 MAX flight control system.”, named MCAS, on the origin of the two incidents, the Department of Justice explains in a press release.
According to prosecution documents, in 2016 the official discovered information about a significant change made to this program that was supposed to block kiosks but deliberately chose not to share it with the FAA. So the latter did not include a reference to MCAS in a core document, and indirectly in pilots’ training manuals. Mark Forkner, 49, is also accused of conspiring to detriment of Boeing customers who bought 737 Max jets by denying them basic information. According to documents published in early 2020, he boasted of his ability to deceive FAA interlocutors into obtaining certification for the MCAS anti-stall system.
The 737 Max was officially approved in March 2017. In October 2018 and March 2019, two accidents respectively involving Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines aircraft killed 346 people. During both incidents, the flight control program, MCAS, was transmitted based on false information sent by one of the aircraft’s probes. All other 737 Max aircraft were then grounded for twenty months, before being allowed to fly again at the end of 2020, once the software was modified.
Boeing has admitted responsibility for power fraud and has agreed to pay more than $2.5 billion to settle some lawsuits. A Texas grand jury has formally indicted Mark Forkner, 49, with two counts of aircraft parts fraud and four counts of electronic communications fraud. If found guilty, he could theoretically face up to 100 years in prison.
Mark Forkner withheld key information from the regulator in an effort to save money for Boeing.Texas federal prosecutor Chad Meacham said in the statement. “The Department of Justice cannot tolerate such fraud, especially in an sector where the stakes are high.”, he added.
Asked by AFP, Boeing declined to comment.
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