A US grand jury has indicted a former Boeing 737 MAX pilot.
A former Boeing chief test pilot was accused on Thursday by a federal grand jury in the United States with deceiving aviation regulators during the certification process for the 737 MAX, which was involved in two tragic disasters.
Mark Forkner, 49, was the main point of contact between the aviation behemoth and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) about pilot training.
The Justice Department stated in a statement that Forkner “presented the agency with materially false, incorrect, and incomplete information about a new portion of the flight controls for the Boeing 737 MAX” flight handling system, dubbed the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS).
The MCAS, which was blamed for the 2018 and 2019 crashes, was designed to keep the plane from diving, but it malfunctioned.
According to court records, Forkner discovered information on a critical change made to the MCAS in 2016 that was designed to avoid stalling, but chose not to tell the FAA about it.
As a result, the FAA didn’t include a mention of the MCAS in pilot training manuals.
Boeing has admitted to deceiving authorities and agreed to pay more than $2.5 billion to settle claims. The airline has also confirmed that two of its employees lied to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Forkner is the first person to face charges in this case.
Forkner noted the MCAS made the plane difficult to fly in a simulator in a message to a colleague that was revealed in 2019.
However, he elected not to disclose that information with the FAA, which resulted in the regulator not mandating specific pilot training or mentioning the MCAS in training materials.
Forkner boasted to his coworker about lying to the regulator. He also claimed, according to documents disclosed in early 2020, that he could falsify his FAA contacts in order to secure MCAS certification.
Forkner is also accused of withholding vital information from Boeing customers who purchased 737 MAX planes.
The 737 MAX received formal certification in March 2017 and flew for the first time a few weeks later.
However, a Lion Air plane crashed into the sea shortly after takeoff in October 2018, killing all 189 people aboard.
An Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX plane crashed in March 2019, killing 157 passengers.
In all incidents, the MCAS had gone haywire due to erroneous data supplied by one of the plane’s two sensors.
It wasn’t until October 2018, nearly a year after the first disaster, that the. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.