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Former Boeing test pilot charged with allegedly fooling 737 Max safety regulators

A federal grand jury indicted a former Boeing test pilot for allegedly deceiving safety regulators who were evaluating the company’s 737 Max airliner, which was later involved in two fatal crashes that killed 346 people.

The pilot, Mark Forkner, is accused of deceiving the Federal Aviation Administration safety agency and “of defrauding[ing] US airlines that are Boeing customers will get tens of millions of dollars “for the company, the Justice Department said on Thursday. Federal prosecutors said Forkner gave the FAA “essentially false, inaccurate and incomplete” information about some of the 737 Max’s flight controls.

The flight control system was not mentioned in key FAA documents, pilot manuals or pilot training materials provided to airlines that purchased the planes. The system, known as MCAS, was later linked with fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019.

“In an attempt to save money for Boeing, Forkner allegedly withheld critical information from regulators,” Acting US Attorney Chad Meacham said in a statement. “His ruthless choice to mislead the FAA hampered the agency’s ability to protect the flying public and left pilots in awe, lacking information on some of the 737 MAX’s flight controls. The Department of Justice will not tolerate fraud, especially in areas where the stakes are so high. “

The 737 Max was then grounded for 19 months before returning to service in November 2020.

The New York Times notes that Forkner is said to be the first person to face criminal charges for issues with the 737 Max. He was charged with two counts of fraud involving aircraft parts and four counts of wire fraud. If convicted on all counts, Forkner faces a maximum sentence of several decades in prison.

Boeing struck a $ 2.5 billion deal with the federal government in January to resolve a criminal charge it conspired to defraud the FAA.


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